Community fights Jamaica High closure

January 07, 2010 01:32PM

At tonight’s public hearing on Jamaica High, the landmarked public school that’s one of 20 in the city slated to close for poor performance, students and teachers and community members will be out in full force to defend it, WNYC reported. The school of roughly 1,527 students, whose alumni include Francis Ford Coppola and Art Buchwald, graduated just 46 percent of the senior class last year, according to city records. There’s already one small academy housed inside the facility’s walls, and the city is looking to phase out Jamaica High, which was labeled “persistently dangerous” by the state in 2007, in place of several more academies like it. But the school’s supporters say Jamaica High has been on the right track under Principal Walter Acham, who took over after its 2007 “dangerous” designation and made the school safer. Acham said large high schools are able to offer specialized classes and sports teams that smaller schools can’t. Still, “any school where we cannot deliver on the promise to graduate students at a rate of greater than one out of every two kids who enters the school is in a state of crisis,” said John White, the city’s deputy chancellor for strategy at the Department of Education. “Jamaica High School is not doing as well as the vast majority of schools whose kids have similar challenges.” The Panel for Educational Policy votes on the Jamaica High closure plan Jan. 26.

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