February 15, 2011
Though the citywide school board has already voted to close Christopher Columbus High School, students, teachers, and alumni rallied on the steps of City Hall today to make the case for their Plan B. Columbus’s faculty wants to convert their large, traditional high school into a charter school, but it will need the city’s permission first.
“I think our challenge has been to get the Department of Education to take our proposal seriously,” said Columbus teacher Christine Rowland. In the last year that Columbus has been working on its charter application, the city has promised to help, then offered conflicting advice and no support, Rowland said.
At the rally today, Columbus faculty and students urged the DOE to accept their proposal to keep their school open. In order to convert into a charter school, more than half of Columbus students’ parents have to vote to approve the change and Rowland said the school has already collected many of their ballots. But the response from a DOE spokesman indicated that the department isn’t interested.
“Columbus ranks in the bottom 6% of all high schools across the city, and one of every two students who walk through its doors doesn’t graduate on time,” spokesman Jack Zarin-Rosenfeld wrote in an email. “We’re not willing to gamble that the same organization that has failed kids year after year can suddenly turn around. This commnity needs new and better schools for families, and that’s what we intend to provide.”