Tag Archive | "Education"

Two Bronx high schools make Top 100 ‘Best High Schools’ list, NY Daily News

Two Bronx high schools have made the cut for the annual U.S. News & World Report’ s Top 100 ‘Best High Schools’ list, reports the New York Daily News.

The High School of American Studies at Lehman College in the Bronx came in at #19 across the country.

The Bronx High School of Science came in at #58.

Statewide, 30 schools made the list, include a dozen across the city.

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New York schools fall in progress reports, but one Bronx school surprises, NYTimes

New York’s elementary and middle schools received twice as many D’s and F’s this year from last year under the city’s grading system from the Department of Education, reports SchoolBook, a joint education journalism venture between the New York Times and WNYC radio.

Last year, the Department enacted a rule that schools couldn’t drop more than two letter grades in the School Progress Reports, but this year that safety net was removed and many schools fell further.

Altogether, 79 city schools received D’s and 32 were graded F. Last year, only around 60 school total had received D’s or F’s, reports SchoolBook.

A quarter of schools received A’s, 35 percent were given B’s and another 30 percent got C’s.

The South Bronx Classical Charter School, however, bucked the trend and received an A this year after getting a D last year.

 

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Bronx High School of Science faces high teacher turnover rate this year

The New York Times reported on September 16 that 8 of 20 social studies teachers at Bronx High School of Science have decided not to teach at the school again this year. “In my 25 years of teaching experience, I have never witnessed so many people transfer out of one department so quickly,” said Louis DiIulio, on of the social studies teachers who decided to stay at the school. Many teachers blame the administration. The New York Times found in interviews conducted with 7 former or current teachers at Bronx Science that teachers felt berated and disrespected by the administration, and in particular by Principal Valerie Reidy. Ms. Reidy, though, claims that turnover is a natural part of the school environment. “Turnover happens, and our job is to make sure that when turnover happens it’s a positive thing for students,” she said.

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Bronx public school teacher charged with sexual abuse

Tulsie Singh, 35, was arrested yesterday on charges of sexual abuse of a young boy at P.S. 306 in Tremont. Sources told NY1 that past accusations had been made against the teacher. The Department of Education removed Singh from the school more than once but then allowed him to return. He is out on bail.

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Top Stories of the Day

New lawyer set to try Bronx prosecutor, Jennifer Troiano’s DWI Case

Bronx prosecutor, Jennifer Troiano, fired her lawyer in her DWI hearing scheduled to begin later this year. Her now former lawyer, Howard Weiswasser, was preparing to put his own daughter, and close friend of Troiano, on the stand. The Daily News reports that Troiano’s new lawyer, Steven Epstein, is known for winning the acquittal of former Bronx prosecutor Stephen Lopresti, also on a DWI charge.

Surprise appearance at yesterday’s Ferragosto festival

The Bronx hosted its annual Ferragosto festival in Little Italy yesterday. The festival celebrates all things Italian, and yesterday according to The Daily News, that included baseball legend Babe Ruth. His granddaughter paid a surprise visit. “I wish he could be here now,” Linda Ruth Tosetti said of her late grandfather.

Education is the path out of poverty in the Bronx

The South Bronx has a new program for youth. Hunts Point Alliance for Children is poised to begin an early literacy program next month. Maryann Hedaa, Executive Director of the center, talks to the New York Post about their new project.

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Emotional pleas aside, panel votes to close Bronx Academy

When Angel Sosa transferred to Bronx Academy High School in the South Bronx almost a year and a half ago as a sophomore, he only had 10 credits out of the roughly 44 needed to graduate. “I woke up this morning with three acceptance letters to college,” the 18-year-old senior told  the city’s Panel for Educational Policy, which on Thursday night voted to close the school.

In March, the Department of Education proposed the phase out of Bronx Academy because of its poor performance and its inability to turn its failing record around quickly. The school received two F’s and a C in its last three report cards.

Students and teachers presented data to demonstrate the changes the school has implemented in the past eight months under the leadership of new Principal Gary Eisinger. According to a 43-page document distributed to the panel, the school saw a 25 percent increase in the number of students who passed the Regents exams, and attendance is up to 73 percent from 67 percent.

Senior Snanice Kittel, 16, told the panel members that  her teachers genuinely cared about students and were helping them to succeed. “They will call in the morning to make sure you go to class. And they will even visit your house and talk to your parents if you haven’t come,” she said, explaining that these practices were put in place under the new administration.

Their case was not persuasive enough to convince the panel to vote to save the school.

“We are proud of the work Gary has done in the school,” said Deputy Chancellor Marc Sternberg. “Even if there has been improvement, it’s well below what we expect to see,” he said, adding that the numbers presented by the school staff was inaccurate and that its own assessment revealed a different story.

Frederick R. Coscia, a statistician and economics teacher at Bronx Academy, insisted the Department of Education was basing its decision to close the school on two-year-old data. “We deserve our own report this year,” he said.

Monica Major, the Bronx representative to the panel, requested a postponement of the vote to phase out of the school. The motion was denied.

“We asked for a miracle, we got it and now we will not see the end of it,” said Major as the audience yelled at the panel to “look at the data.” She reminded her colleagues on the panel that Bronx Academy High School is a transfer school that takes students who  have already failed in other schools. Opened in 2003, this “transfer school” serves an alternative for overage students who have trouble graduating from a regular high school.

Despite acknowledging the work done by transfer schools and what they represent, the newly appointed Chancellor Dennis Walcott said Bronx Academy “has not done the job.” “We base our decisions on facts and not solely on emotions,” he said, citing the school’s poor performance and its inclusion in the New York State’s “persistent lower achieving” schools list.

“We cannot allow more students to go to a school that is not performing at the standards,” Walcott said.

After four and half hours of testimony and amid chorus of “lies, lies” and “shame on you,” the panel approved the phase-out of Bronx Academy by nine votes to five. Only the five borough representatives opposed the closure. Starting in September, the school will not accept new students and will have until June 2013 to graduate those who are currently enrolled. It will be replaced by Bronx Arena High School, a transfer school that will open its door for the 2011-2012 school year.

English teacher Robert MacVicar expressed his disappointment with the chancellor and the panel for not giving the school a one-year reprieve. “I am saddened by Mr. Walcott’s and Mayor Bloomberg’s failure to take reasonable and compassionate account of our students’ deep and abiding goodness, despite their sometimes soul-trying circumstances at home and on the mean streets of South Bronx,” he said.

Visibly upset, Angel Sosa asked why the panel did not take his testimony and others who spoke into consideration. “I had come with hope,” he said.

As students and supporters of the school left, Principal Eisinger said he appreciated the support he received.

“I put a lot of heart into the school,’’ he said, “and it shows.”

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Bronx Academy High School to DOE: Not us too!

Bronx high school superintendent Elena Papaliberios explained to Bronx Academy parents the proposal submitted by the DOE (Foto credit: Clara Martinez Turco)

By Clara Martinez Turco

Teachers and parents at the Bronx Academy High School in the South Bronx were surprised by a last-minute proposal by the city’s Department of Education to close the school.

“I really wasn’t expecting they would come in and say we might close,” said Linda Butkowski, 52, a teacher of American studies at Bronx Academy and a representative of the United Federation of Teachers representative.

In a document dated March 3, the DOE proposed the phase out of Bronx Academy because of its poor performance and because “the school lacks the capacity to turn around quickly to better support student needs.” The school received two F’s and a C in its last three report cards and had a six-year graduation rate of 49 percent.

A new school administration took over in September and teachers say they thought the DOE would take into consideration the changes made since then.

“The school had an amazing turn around under the leadership of the new principal… Is almost as if it was a new school,” said Butkowski. Changes to this “transfer school,” which was opened in 2003 as an alternative for students who have trouble graduating from a regular high school, include trimester terms and the appointment of a faculty advocate for every student.

Last December, the New York State Department of Education identified the Bronx Academy as a “persistent lower achieving” school and gave it a year to implement a major transformation to turn around. State representatives later visited the school and said they would release in late April a report with their recommendations, said counselor Linda Vinecour.

However, the city’s DOE cited the identification of the school as an under achiever as one reason to close it.  “At the end of the day, Bronx Academy is not doing the job, and we feel it will not turn around and serve better the kids,” said spokesman Jack Zarin-Rosenfeld, explaining that the DOE decisions are independent from the state. Both city and state departments of education were unavailable for further comments.

The proposal to close Bronx Academy comes after the city’s Panel for Education Policy voted to close 22 schools, ten of them in the Bronx.

During an informational meeting held at Bronx Academy on March 8, parents expressed their frustration with the proposal by city’s school officials. “It seems the decision has already been taken,” said one angry parent soon after the Bronx High School superintendent Elena Papaliberios explained the next steps in the school’s phase out pending approval by the Panel.

“I don’t agree with the closure because students need a school like this,” said Rosa Ramirez, 39, who enrolled her 16-year-old son, Jorge, in October after she said he had been bullied several times at his previous high school. Jorge said the school has helped him to stay on track. “A lot of us come here for a second chance to get our diploma,” he said.

Despite the shock caused by the proposal, students and faculty vowed to fight the phase out, Vinecour said.

On April 6, the Bronx Academy community will meet at the school to make the case against the closure. The meeting will be recorded and a copy of the recording shared among the members of the Panel for Education Policy, which will vote on April 28 on whether the phase out should proceed.

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With his new school, a Bronx pediatrician looks for another way to keep kids healthy

There are two Richard Izquierdos that Bronx locals recognize. One man, Richard Izquierdo Arroyo, made headlines last year when he was charged with embezzling more than $100,000 from a non-profit low-income housing organization. The other, Richard Izquierdo, known as the “Doc,” is a man who walks with a cane and often plays with his iPhone. He is a pediatrician who founded two health centers in the borough and is now hoping to heal a new generation with The Dr. Richard Izquierdo Health & Science Charter School that opened this fall.

With that resume, Izquierdo–the doctor–doesn’t worry that Bronx residents will confuse him with the other Izquierdo.

Richard Izquierdo was nicknamed Doc because he’s been a pediatrician in the Bronx since 1962, with now-famous patients like U.S. Surgeon General Dr. Richard Carmona, Bronx Borough President Rubén Díaz Jr., and Supreme Court Justice Sonia Sotomayor.

Trained at the University of Madrid Medical School and the University of Lausanne Medical School in Switzerland, Izquierdo founded a Hunts Point-based bilingual public health center, Urban Health Plan (UHP), now run by his daughter, Paloma Hernandez, and his private clinic, Multi Medic Physician Services, run by his son, Richard. He has chaired the local Community Board and has won many recognition awards from Bronx organizations.

He recently turned 81 and still goes to friends’ homes to perform minor procedures like applying butterfly closures or giving injections, but what he’s most excited about is his new job as chairman of the Dr. Richard Izquierdo Health & Science Charter School in Morrisania. “I live from dream to dream, mountaintop to mountaintop,” said Izquierdo. “I’m a salesman. I sell dreams and then make them come true.”

After the Board of Education denied two requests to open the school because the health and science theme had to be more integrated into the curriculum, Izquierdo teamed up with John Xavier, who wanted to start his own health care school. Xavier gave up that plan and is now the principal of the school, which received a start-up grant from the Walton Family Foundation.

“The school wouldn’t be what it is without him,” said Xavier. “It’s a long, complicated name for a school but every word in that name is essential to what we’re doing. The more I know Izquierdo, the more important it is to me that this school becomes his legacy.”

The 100 sixth grade students (according to Izquierdo, there were a few more enrolled at the beginning that ended up not showing up or moved out) are each given an iPad (which they keep at the school), chess and fencing classes, and instruction on capoeira, the Brazilian no-contact martial art. Starting in January, the students will have to build a science project of vertical plants to study how photosynthesis works, which Izquierdo hopes will help educate them to care about their environment. In keeping with the medical theme, students must wear scrubs (“I don’t do things in a small way,” said Izquierdo). Their science classes run for 90 minutes as opposed to the typical 45 so the students can have an accelerated science instruction that will more readily prepare them to pursue further education or find employment. They will be certified as Emergency Medical Technicians by the time they graduate and, if the school is successful in its mission, their chances of landing a job will be higher than most in the Bronx, which has a daunting 12.5 percent unemployment rate, the highest in the New York metropolitan area.

Not long after school started, Izquierdo chatted with 11-year old Shailoh Cervantes, a student who addressed the school at orientation and who hopes to become a doctor one day. Izquierdo reminded Cervantes of what he said during orientation:

“There are three important things: One, that we were going to give you an education so that you could make a living,” said Izquierdo. ”The second was to be proud of who you are, of your name; and the last one was to make this place a better world to live in and to help other people. Do you remember that?”

“Yeah, I remember that,” said Cervantes. “I think that what you said should help us throughout our lives so that we can have a better life. My dream is to become a famous doctor, that people would remember my name for helping a lot of other people.”

The school received a grant from the Charter School Center, a non-profit organization that helps start charter schools, to hire an award-winning documentary filmmaker, Antonio Ferrera, to record the students as they develop throughout the year. The administration’s hope is that the school can then look back and observe their work objectively and learn from their mistakes. “Nobody’s paying attention to the South Bronx but Izquierdo is making sure there’s a new generation of children that are paying attention to it,” said Ferrera.

Izquierdo wants to develop programs in first aid and health literacy, and try out different curricula to see if an increase in exercise classes will result in higher performance and weight loss. He wants to battle the Bronx’s obesity problem (47 percent of kids are overweight) starting with these students.

“We let the students know what’s expected of them and what they can expect from us,” said Izquierdo. “I call it the CPR of relationships: Consistent, Predictable and Reliable. Cardio Pulmonary Resuscitation. CPR.”

Izquierdo has a strip of white mustache cut in a way that appears to pay homage to his Puerto Rican heritage–a perfectly straight and trimmed line. Though his family is Puerto Rican, Izquierdo was raised in New York City. At 14, he used to sneak into the city’s hottest night clubs because he already had a little bit of this mustache–just enough that he would get away with it–and so he got to know many Latin legends like Noro Morales and Machito. His phrases are interspersed with Spanish sayings like, “Dios los cría y ellos se juntan” (“God creates them and they unite”) and he loves typical Puerto Rican dishes such as rice and beans and plantains. He claims that his salsa moves are still so good that a couple of months before the Urban Health Plan’s annual Christmas party, “The young ladies would say, ‘I want to be on your card.’ ”

“He’s not just always been a medical doctor,” said Jessie Harris, a Bronx Community Board member and book distributor who has known him for 25 years. “He’s also a community doctor. He’s been one man I’ve known whose had goals and reached them–medically, socially and academically.”

Izquierdo’s medical legacy lives on: his daughter and son have taken over the management of the health care businesses he started and he hopes the Health & Science Charter School will help young Bronxites follow in his steps. But Izquierdo is already working on his next dream as a “community doctor.” He’s planning to buy what used to be his father’s bodega and convert it into a green grocery store with health education classes and a salad bar offering hearty meals.

It’s all part of his longevity strategy, he said: “I’m bribing God because if I’m busy with projects, he can’t take me away.”

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