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‘We Are Bryant’

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One week before Mayor Michael Bloomberg announced the beheading of city Schools Chancellor Cathie Black, students and alumni of Bryant High School in Astoria and elected officials gathered to fight for the future of the school.

The rally, with school mascots that screamed “We are Bryant” and “Save our school,” was called to protest the state Department of Education’s designation of the school as “persistently lowest achieving.” The school was given this designation because it had a graduation rate of less than 60 percent for the last four years. Because of this, the school will be forced to undergo a transformation or turnaround.

The only thing worse than such a designation coming from bureaucrats locked away in the Tweed Courthouse in Manhattan is seeing the decision made by bureaucrats in Albany. Neither the turnaround that would force the school to replace qualified teachers and other staff or a shutdown is acceptable. This would be a costly mistake.

The rally proved there is more to this school than shows up on a spreadsheet. City Councilman Jimmy Van Bramer, an alumnus of the school, said he would not be a councilman today if it were not for the “great education” he got at Bryant HS.

State Assemblywoman Aravella Simotas, an alumna of the school, told the crowd, “I’m here to tell you that Bryant is not a failing school.”

The statistical basis the state is using to condemn this school is faulty. Since the appointment of Principal Aaron Perez, the graduation rate has been rising steadily.

We urge the incoming city schools chancellor to fight to keep Bryant and other schools in Queens from closing. If the schools are broken, fix what is wrong.

Welcome to ‘A Guy from Queens’

Mayor Michael Bloomberg all but admitted last week that hiring Cathie Black to run the city schools was a mistake.

At the same time, he announced he was appointing Deputy Mayor Dennis Walcott as the new chancellor. Walcott is everything Black is not. He describes himself as “a guy from Queens” and notes that four generations of his family have attended city public schools.

We are proud the mayor has selected “a guy from Queens” to run the public school system. We wish him success.

Updated 10:59 am, October 12, 2011
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