The recent incident at the Jerry Dever Middle School, formerly MS 180, points out the crisis in discipline at the school. As a former member of the C.O.R.E. Committee to improve MS 180, I recommended closing the school, re-staffing it, copying the curriculum currently in use at Bay Academy, Hudde or Boody, re-naming the school, and re-opening it. The school board in conjunction with Audrey Pheffer did everything in their power to sabotage efforts of the members of CORE to improve 180, reciting the mantra that the chaos at the school was perception and the well oiled machine that equaled perfection was reality. Thus, a shamed JDMS stands as a monument to those who served on the school board and their supporters during this last decade.
Surely the easiest task of those factors mentioned that would improve MS180 was the re-naming of the school which was accomplished last week. Certainly Mary and Michael Dever cannot be proud that Jerry's name will be emblazoned on the bow of a sinking ship as the "wilding incident" made front page news in two out of the four local dailies and topped New York One and Channel 7 News on television.
In a letter written to "The Wave" two months ago I suggested Mary wait until 180 became a school of which Jerry could have been proud before pushing for the honor of naming it after him. Now that the re-naming was given the rush act and is a fait au complete, I ask Mary how committed she is in leading a group of concerned parents toward the goal of turning the school around for Jerry's sake? Sadly, Jerry may have been one of the few educators in the school who saw wrongs and knew how to correct them. Sadly, according to news accounts, his successors do not measure up to Jerry's level of competency. Sadly, despite public relations from the District 27 office and a big push to cajole PS 114 parents to send their middle school age children to 180, the climate for disruption at 180 would have 114 parents scattering in a different directions.
Do the following factors sound familiar? Schools sell houses. Schools dictate political leanings of your neighbors. Schools provide the foundation for most of your children's childhood friends. Schools provide a climate for learning. Sadly, none of these factors apply at the Jerry Dever Middle School.
What are we going to do with middle school education on the west end, Mary, endow a scholarship in Jerry's name or a bit more? First, Matt Bromme must be encouraged to relocate the District 27 District Office that glares like an ivory tower on Rockaway boulevard in Ozone Park miles away from the Rockaway peninsula, to the Jerry Dever Middle School. Lord knows the school has plenty of room to accommodate it. Secondly, School Superintendent Bromme must recognize that discipline supercedes academics for those parents who would send their precious children to any middle school. Consequently, he must chart a workable plan to control the climate at JDMS. Surely Matt Bromme must know the reputation of MS 180 that it has been a pariah for years. There appears no better alternative than to shut down for the summer during which time Bromme will be able to make massive re-assignments and re-alignment of personnel. Reassign those slated for summer school. The time for massive change is now.
The ship that is 180 continues to sink. Those who have clout must not fail to make every attempt to salvage the only west end intermediate school. Please, Matt, Mary and Michael, strive to make 180 worthy of bearing Jerry Dever's name.