Is it a stay of execution or a permanent reprieve?
After months of speculation about the the fate of Boys and Girls High School, the Department of Education announced it’s decision. Boys and Girls, along with eight other struggling high schools that had been put on the SURR (Schools Under Registration Review) list, will, under highly prescriptive conditions, live to see another school year.
Using a federal program called the “Restart” model, which has never been attempted in New York City before, Boys and Girls can receive up to six million dollars in federal dollars if the school administration agrees to allow the city to contract with an outside non-profit organization to supervise the management of the school.
At best, it’s a funded opportunity to improve graduation rates and academic achievement over a period of three years. Through a more negative lens, it’s a devil’s bargain that possibly forces the school administration to relinquish any claims to self-determination.
Here at the Brooklyn Movement Center, it’s been frustrating watching the drama unfold around Boys and Girls High School over the past few months. While we are working on raising money to hire a full-time organizer that can help Principal Gassaway engage parents, teachers and folks outside the school in a collaborative effort to raise achievement levels, the wheels of the DOE’s bureaucracy grind along.
Having had the opportunity to work with Principle Gassaway, and his lieutenant, Stan Kinard, it’s impossible to miss their commitment and hard work, which gets papered over in public debates around school reform and effective school management. And with a school that internalizes and struggles against the myriad socio-economic problems facing Bedford-Stuyvesant, it’s hard not to see this latest move by the DOE as largely missing the point.
One thing is for certain. The need for Bed-Stuy to stand up and fight for Boys and Girls has never been greater.