2004-02-20 / Editorial/Opinion

Some School Changes Worthy Of A Trial Run

Some School Changes Worthy Of A Trial Run

While we still reserve judgment on Mayor Michael Bloomberg’s stewardship of the New York City Public School system, there are at least two changes that will impact Rockaway that we see as worthy of at least a trial run. The first of those is the "New Beginnings" program that will run out of a storefront on Rockaway Beach Boulevard and Beach 115 Street. We have been arguing for years that disruptive students must be taken from their home schools and put into alternative settings. This is what New Beginnings will attempt to do. We have received a number of telephone calls decrying the fact that the new program has been sited nearby a busy shopping street, but those who are running the program assure us that there will be no students at the site who have shown a propensity for violence. The thirty students in the program (15 from Far Rockaway High School, 15 from Beach Channel High School) are a drop in the bucket, and the question of where to place violent students must be addressed as well, but the program is certainly a step in the right direction. The second program worthy of note and of a trial run is the "Scholar’s Academy" that will run at both PS 114 and PS 105 this year and then transition to MS 180 for the following school year. Rockaway has been losing its top students to parochial schools and to public schools in District 21 (Brooklyn) for too many years. It is time for a school that parents consider viable and safe to be opened on the peninsula. Will other schools on the peninsula lose some of their best students to the new program? Of course they will. That happens whenever a Gifted school opens. Will some students who cannot make the tough standards demanded by a gifted school be left out of the process? Of course they will. Those problems aside, we think that the gifted plan is worth a try. Change is always difficult and usually contentious. That should not deter some change from taking place, especially in a school bureaucracy that was badly in need of change.

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