Friday, August 31

Backlash against alternative programs?

Gotham Gazette reports that Kew Garden Hills residents are preparing to protest the DOE's decision to locate a new transfer alternative school in the neighborhood. City Council member James Gennaro is more upset that the DOE didn't seek community approval before making the decision than he is about the nature of the program, which will serve older students who may have had difficulty at their previous schools. “It’s really just the community feels so left out,” Gennaro's spokesman told Gotham Gazette. “It’s almost hurtful.”

In the last year, several school communities have successfully protested the DOE's attempts to locate new schools in their buildings. But this situation is different -- the alternative school in Queens will have its own building, in an old Catholic school. And usually, when a community finds out it will be getting a new school, folks are happy. Could it be that Gennaro is concerned about having older, less academically successful high school students in his neighborhood? I hope that's not the case. But I think about how folks at MS 113 in Brooklyn recently told the Daily News that sharing space with a GED program instead of a suspension center was "the lesser of two evils." As the recent story about transfer alternative schools in the New York Times made clear, taking more than four years to graduate from high school is becoming more and more common. Instead of resisting schools that will help older kids graduate from high school, communities should be happy to see them made available.

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