Over the past 11 years, the New York City Department of Education (NYCDOE) has perpetuated a race to create new small schools, placing large high schools at risk of closure. However, students and parents of The Bronx borough and greater New York City area need and deserve a broad diversity of schools so they are afforded maximum educational opportunity and choice. Large comprehensive New York City public high schools have been vilified, blamed, denied resources, and used as dumping grounds for students too challenging for small schools to educate. DeWitt Clinton High School is dedicated to teaching and guiding all students, championing their right to learn; but the school is not provided with adequate resources by the NYCDOE to succeed in this area. Educating New York City students for 115 years; named one of 96 outstanding schools in the nation by US News and World Report, in 1999; boasting more than 200,000 alumni including Ralph Lauren, James Baldwin, Neil Simon, Richard Rogers, Stan Lee, and many more prominent figures of our great American History; there is nothing wrong with DeWitt Clinton High School that cannot be fixed!
Founded in 1897, Clinton has educated and graduated more than 200,000 students, many of whom have gone on to illustrious and highly distinguished careers. The remarkable list of alumni include giants such as James Baldwin, Neil Simon, Ralph “Ralph Lauren” Lifshitz, Richard Rogers, Burton “Burt” Lancaster, Thomas “Fats” Waller, Countee Cullen, Sydney “Paddy” Chayefsky, Romare Bearden, Adolph Green, Stan Lee, Avery Corman, Robert Klein, Garry Marshall, Jack and Lewis Rudin, Edward “Ed” Lewis, Theodore Kheel, Gil Noble, Daniel Schorr, Lionel Trilling, Mortimer J. Adler, Roy Neuberger, and Nathaniel “Tiny” Archibald, to name a few; and that list does not include the young and gifted alumni on their way to celebratory achievements. Once a boy’s high school, today the active mailing list of the DeWitt Clinton Alumni Association includes more than 23, 000 loyal, devoted, accomplished, and passionate men and women.
Over the past 11 years, it is a well-established fact that in the NYCDOE’s race to create hundreds of new small schools, large comprehensive high schools have been forced to admit a huge number of extremely high-risk students who cannot be easily “accommodated” in these fragile new-schools-in-formation. As the concentration of highly challenged, difficult to teach, often dangerous students increased in large schools such as Clinton, the performance results of these schools has suffered; and Clinton, named one of 96 outstanding high schools in the nation in 1999, has suffered significantly due to no fault of its own, as the resources so desperately needed to cope with such an enormous burden have been spent instead on the enormous start-up costs of the new schools.
The borough of The Bronx, rebounding from the desperate straits of the 70’s to the renaissance it is enjoying today, requires and deserves a broad diversity of schools to meet the diverse needs of our children. Large schools have been vilified, blamed, denied resources, and used as dumping grounds for students too challenging for small schools to educate. DeWitt Clinton High School is dedicated to teaching and guiding all students, championing their right to learn; but the school is not provided with adequate resources by the NYCDOE to succeed in this area. These students, our children, have been “thrown to the wolves” and abandoned; and now the powers-that-be are ready to throw DeWitt Clinton High School into the dustbin of history!
The proceedings to close DeWitt Clinton High School are irresponsible and careless. The proposal is a disgrace and an insult to our proud borough of The Bronx. Totally unnecessary, there is nothing wrong with Clinton that cannot be fixed. Let us ask ourselves these compelling questions: Who weakened DeWitt Clinton High School? Who allowed its performance to backslide? Who is responsible for declining student outcomes?
Students, teachers, parents, administrators, alumni, retired faculty and staff, civic, corporate and university partners, including elected officials and citizens across the Bronx borough are OUTRAGED that DeWitt Clinton HS is being threatened with closure, rather than being supported, adequately funded, renewed, and subsequently strengthened.
We, the undersigned, therefore demand that Mayor Michael R. Bloomberg, Chancellor Dennis M. Walcott and the New York City Department of Education immediately provide ironclad assurances in writing that DeWitt Clinton High School:
1. Will remain open as a large high school (budgeted for at least 3,000 students annually based upon October 31st registration) for no fewer than five years, through the end of the 2018 school year;
2. Will NOT admit an aggregate percentage of incoming bilingual, Special Education, students overage-for-grade, and truants exceeding 25% of total admissions;
3. Will be “capped” effective immediately, and be required to admit no additional over-the-counter admissions on safety/security transfer, students being placed following Superintendent suspensions, students released from institutions, truants, over-age for grade students, and students who are not on-track for graduation with their graduation cohort until the school achieves a Progress Report Grade of A or B;
4. Will receive an immediate provision of funds to SIGNIFICANTLY increase the number of guidance counselors, social workers, attendance teachers/family paraprofessionals, bilingual/ESL and Special Education teachers, tutors/tutoring hours, School Safety agents, deans, and school security aides; expand co/extra-curricular activities as well as resources for Community Based Organization’s (CBO) to work with students who are truant and/or not yet on-track for graduation; and provide faculty and staff with intensive professional development to improve teaching and learning;
5. Will receive Network and NYCDOE assistance to effectuate the expedited transfer to more appropriate educational settings for those students (at least 250) who are undermining the ability to learn and be successful amongst the majority of students at DeWitt Clinton High School.
Chancellor Walcott, please assist our efforts to Stop Proceedings to Close Dewitt Clinton High School in The Bronx! SAVE THE CASTLE ON THE PARKWAY, DEWITT CLINTON HIGH SCHOOL-- NOW AND FOREVER!