2010-01-15 / Columnists

It’s My Turn

By Christopher Petrillo Senior Student, Beach Channel High School

Petrillo is a senior at Beach Channel High School who has become the leader in the movement to keep the school open. At the January 6 meeting with DOE officials, Petrillo gave a 10- minute PowerPoint presentation that had the crowd on its feet and cheering the 18-year-old.

The Beach Channel High School principal’s strong and purposeful leadership is challenging the school community to raise its expectations by ensuring everyone has an opportunity to succeed. The DOE obviously doesn’t care.

Beach Channel High School has lost an array of resources but it did not impact the school immediately be - cause of the wonderful teaching staff and the principal, Dr. David Morris.

The only reason Beach Channel is closing is because the mayor and Joel Klein want the school to eventually turn into a charter school so they can weaken the UFT because the charter schools do not have the same accountability rules that the city has had to follow in the past.

According to the quality review report Beach Channel High School is a proficient school that should not close or phase out. Just a few years ago, the graduation rate was more than 60 percent. Demographics show that in a period of one year Beach Channel lost 32 teachers because of budget cuts. In addition, the city did not give us the money needed to keep resources such as the oceanography program, cooking, dance and other popular elective classes.

As of right now, according to demographics Beach Channel has more than 240 students that need ESL services and more than 239 students that need Special Ed to pass through high school and not drop out.

The ESL and Special Ed programs make up approximately one-third of the student population in Beach Chan - nel High School.

When teachers were cut because of the declining budget given to Beach Channel High School, the class sizes increased from approximately 25 students in the classroom to 34. Over - crow ded classes make it more difficult for students to learn.

With Scholar’s Academy being across the street and Channel View inside the building, Beach Channel did not receive the diverse population that it has always had in the past.

When the budget was cut each year, Beach Channel did not have enough money to sustain the small learning communities which had been working so well. The students lost the structured and more nurturing environment that these communities provided.

If Beach Channel High School were to close its doors, there would no longer be a comprehensive high school on the peninsula to serve the needs of all students. In the future, other high schools in Queens and in the city will also share Beach Channel’s fate.

John Adams will be affected directly. Many of our students that would have been Beach Channel freshmen and not chosen by the new boutique school will be sent to an already overcrowded high school. We need to step up and end this here and now, because what happens to all the teachers who will find themselves looking for new jobs and becoming victims of the downfall of one of the biggest unions, the UFT? The DOE is on a path of destruction and will take down any big school in their way.

We must stop them here and now! So step up and support our school! E-mail your concerns about the proposed phase-out to Joel Klein at JKLEIN - @school.nyc.gov.

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