2001-08-18 / Editorial/Opinion

Will Magnet Grant Bring Them Home?

Will Magnet Grant Bring Them Home?

District 27 has received a coveted federal magnet grant that will bring one million, one hundred and seventy-one thousand dollars a year, for three years, to two Rockaway schools; as well as to three schools on the mainland. The Rockaway schools include Middle School 180 and Public School 225, both on the West End of the Peninsula. Magnet grants are given for only one reason: to reduce minority isolation in the schools. Both of the targeted schools have been losing non-minority students to parochial schools, private schools and to public magnet schools in Brooklyn for several years. It is hoped that the new money will drive programs that will bring those students home to their Rockaway schools. Will that happen? Will students who have already abandoned district schools return? Will students contemplating middle school choose to stay on the peninsula, or will they and their parents vote with their feet and leave as past students have done? Those questions are hard to answer, but those answers are the key to the revitalization of the two schools. We believe that it is not the programs that drove the students to other schools in the first place, but the issue of safety in the schools. If that is indeed the case, then district officials have to first address that issue before addressing the issue of programs or process. The safety issue cannot be solved by an infusion of federal money. The magnet grant could be the first step in the revitalization of Rockaway schools. Or, it could be the proof in the pudding that it was not programs, but safety that destabilized the schools in the first place and an indication that something radical must be done to address the safety issue if Rockaway schools are going to get better.

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