Miami school that scored a presidential visit could be closed due to No Child Left Behind

President Barack Obama, former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush and Education Secretary Arne Duncan visited Central High School in March. Now, it's threatened with closure or conversion.

The march to privatize public schools comes to Liberty City.

From the Miami Herald:

Two iconic Miami-Dade schools — one of which was held up by President Barack Obama as a national model for education reform — may have to close their doors or be converted into charter schools because they have not shown the required improvements by a controversial state rule.

For three years, Miami Central and Miami Edison have been on the state Department of Education’s list of struggling public schools, despite raising their grades from F’s to C’s. That’s not enough progress, the state says, and a more radical change could be called for.

On Tuesday, Miami-Dade schools Superintendent Alberto Carvalho vowed to keep the schools open.

“There is no way on God’s green earth that I will recommend the closure of these schools,” Carvalho said. “They are the beacons of hope in these communities and I will honor that hope by fighting for these schools.”

Community leaders echoed the sentiment.

“This is an injustice,” said U.S. Rep. Frederica Wilson, a former Miami-Dade School Board member. “These schools are pillars in the community. You can’t just close them or make them charter schools.”

While school grades for high schools have not yet been released, the state says both Central and Edison are within the “F range” based on their performances on the Florida Comprehensive Assessment Tests.

Carvalho countered that FCAT scores don’t tell the whole picture because high school grades now factor in graduation rates, as well as the number of students involved in vocational and college-prep programs.

“We are fairly certain that these schools will not be F schools,” Carvalho said.

Carvalho has filed an appeal with the state Board of Education, outlining both schools’ successes and asking for more time to make progress.

“To deny this appeal is to ignore the compelling progress that’s been made at these schools,” Carvalho said.

The board will make a decision Tuesday during a meeting in Tampa.

A third school, Holmes Elementary in Liberty City, also stayed on the state list for three years.

But Holmes has received three Cs since 2008, and interim Education Commissioner John Winn has recommended it stay open and under Miami-Dade School Board control.

Central and Edison, two long-struggling inner-city high schools, have undergone extensive changes since they were first added to the list of failing schools that faced closure in 2008.

At the time, Central had the worst academic record of all senior high schools in Florida — five straight F’s.

Carvalho put a new leadership team in charge, including the state’s principal of the year Doug Rodriguez.

Rodriguez brought in top teachers, instituted a strict discipline policy and cleaned up the sprawling West Little River campus. Community members joined in the effort, volunteering their time and mentoring students.

Within two years, Central’s state-issued grade rose from F to C, prompting a visit from Obama and former Gov. Jeb Bush in March.

“It’s inspiring to think about where you were a few years ago and where you are today,” Obama told the student body. “You came together to turn this school around, and I think the rest of us can learn from that.”

Read more here.
I was at that Central High pep rally, and experienced first hand the elation of those kids at meeting the president. Kids were literally skipping out of that auditorium afterwards, beaming and boasting that the president had talked to them individually. I asked one kid if he was excited to meet the president, and a sheepish, but wide grin spread across his face as he said “yes ma’am.” It was incredible. And people who live in Miami understand what a big change has taken place at all three schools in question: Central, Miami Edison, which serves a largely Haitian-American population, many with language skills challenges, and Holmes Elementary, which inexplicably saw its principal replaced last year despite his doing a great job with that school.

Unfortunately for those kids, Miami’s new commissioner of education, Gerard Robinson, who the governor poached from Virginia, is an ideologue and charter school zealot who has zero experience actually teaching or administering a school. He’s pretty much an apparatchik of the state’s extremist governor, Rick Scott.

The communities are going to have to fight for these schools, and I give Alberto Carvalho, who can come across as a rather chilly character, a lot of credit for getting into the trenches with them.

Meanwhile, one can only imagine which private charter companies are eyeing these schools for takeover.

UPDATE: Maybe I praised Carvalho too soon. A source tells TRR the superintendent knew this was coming, and was warned about it more than six months ago. He also obviously knew about the schools’ running scores. So perhaps what he is doing is a bit of theater, given that if the takeover goes through, funds for these schools will now flow to the state rather than the district. This one’s definitely developing…

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12 Responses to Miami school that scored a presidential visit could be closed due to No Child Left Behind

  1. p says:

    I want to know Joy, do you think Obama, his administration and all this sky is falling stuff about saving/raising the debt ceiling and all the trillions of dollars he is giving to the war machinery has anything to do with the privatizing and the dumbing down of our national educational system?

    Because the way I see it he could play a hand in saving a lot of these public schools and also higher education.

  2. JReid says:

    First off, P, that’s one hell of a non-sequitor. Second, there is no “sky is falling stuff” re the debt ceiling. If that sucker isn’t raised, the economic sky IS falling. And it will be falling fast. For you, too. The economy could crater, and anything you pay interest on could skyrocket in cost, not to mention unemployment going up, quick.

    Now, what that has to do with privatizing and dumbing down education, which um, is not related to the debt ceiling, you’d have to explain to me. I guess if you hate Barack Obama enough, you can make him responsible for anything, but that sounds like a major stretch.

    Joy R

  3. Sammi says:

    Joy,
    Just read in the sun-sentinel that Miami Dade College could lose it’s accreditation because it has too many part time faculty. This is a warning of what could happen to many of the public colleges in Fla. Losing accreditation means that students are not eligible for federal student aid. With Gov Scott slashing funding to the state schools, I’m pretty sure that most schools are operating with many part-time instructors. Fla’s students are getting short-changed from kindergarten to college. What a way to invest in the state’s future workforce. I would love to read about how Scott’s cuts are affecting the public colleges.

  4. JReid says:

    Sammi you are exactly right, and you point the focus in the right place, too: the state government, namely the legislature and Rick Scott. They are the ones who reduced funding for public schools, increased the power of charter schools, and instituted pension and pay cuts that are driving teachers out of the profession, and gutting tenure. The federal government is not to blame here, and sorry to say to my emoprog friends, Obama is not either.

  5. Michelle says:

    Please notice the FCAT scores of the charter schools in Miami-Dade. Many are very low, but the state shows no concern. So, the conclusion must be that it doesn’t matter the scores of charter schools because they produce a profit. It is only the public schools that our state concerns itself with. On top of it all, these people pick on the poorest, blackest schools of our community. It’s time we stand for all our children in our county and stop these capitalist pigs from ruining what we should all stand for as a society: equal education for all!.

  6. malagodi says:

    Iconic is right. These two schools, with all their faults and difficulties have been a bedrock and central feature of Miami’s Black community for generations. I’m pretty sure that Barrington Irving, who raised the money and built his own plane and then became the first Black man to fly solo around the world, went to school at one of these institutions.

    And thanks to Alberto Carvalho for defending them so vociferously.

    Joy is quite right about the problem being in Florida. This is not a national failure, but a long-standing one in Florida, the unwillingness to adequately fund public schools through a proper and secure revenue source.

    Today we learn that another member of the Florida Board of Education is resigning, leaving Buccaneer Scott to appoint another privatizer to the board.

    On the back of my car there is one bumper sticker which asks the simple and obvious question, “Why are we so stupid?”

    Florida, I’m speaking to you.

  7. Daniel Cruz says:

    make them charter schools and I guarantee success…

  8. ….this is the genesis of public school take over! We said it would come, and here it is. Besides the truth is Miami-Dade public schools are QUITE well!!!

  9. Daniel Cruz says:

    not those loosing schools…make them private…

  10. Did your private school teach spelling?

  11. That was a good one Ms Harnish, it probably went right over his head.

  12. ….@Rozlyn and Robinson Ha!!!

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