In 1903 one of our nation’s most renowned sociologists penned a seminal literary work that set out to show its readers that the problem of the 20th century was and still is the problem of the color line. With that being said, as it was in 1903, the same issues are now being explored in 2017 in a far deeper and more meaningful way, but addressing the same concerns.
The latest proposal from New York City’s Department of Education to consolidate W.E.B. Du Bois High School and the Brownsville Academy High School, a move that will effectively shut down the W.E.B. Du Bois facility in North Crown Heights, and transfer its students, staff and resources to Brownsville Academy High School, is yet another alarming proposal that joins a long series of strategic moves from the DOE that not only lacks community engagement, but fails to serve the Brooklyn community as it effectively dismantles another proven educational institution.
Much to the shock and dismay of the families, school faculty, community members and local elected officials, this decision by the DOE, like their decision to change the applications process and academic standards at Medgar Evers College Preparatory school, proves that this administration has not learned from their past mistakes. By proposing the removal of a longstanding institution from the community, such as W.E.B. DuBois High School, rather than providing them with the necessary funding for success, the DOE is setting our students up to fail, all while turning a deaf ear to the needs and desires of the surrounding community.
As a designated Focus School and the only Transfer School in District 17, W.E.B. DuBois has been in a position to receive compulsory funding from the city over the last five years, however, unlike other Focus and Transfer Schools, W.E.B. DuBois High School has received zero funding from the city during this period. Furthermore, the DOE appears to be deliberately attempting to warehouse students in particular areas, while neglecting the fact that programs such as W.E.B. DuBois are not given a fighting chance that all of our students deserve and need.
When asked why the school hadn’t received any of the promised funding from the City over the past five years, DOE representatives recently stated that they were unaware of any past meetings and promises, as they were not in leadership positions at that time. Perhaps leadership change is something we should be discussing once again. Moreover, all Transfer Schools are eligible for ‘Learning to Work’ program funding, however, W.E.B. DuBois High School has not received any of the funding or support through this program from the City. DOE claims that this program is generally set aside for schools with over 200 students, and yet W.E.B. DuBois High School’s enrollment met that requirement a few times over the past five years.
The DOE’s pattern of meddling in North Crown Height’s school system can be defined as irresponsible city planning at best, professional negligence at worst. Instead of closing a school that serves as a beacon of hope for students who are in need of a second chance, the DOE should be spending its energy locating and providing the five years of funding that W.E.B. DuBois has yet to receive. I am once again calling upon this administration to review the unintentional disturbing pattern of interfering with, and actively shutting down the very school that serves as long-standing institution in our community. In light of what W.E.B. DuBois High School means to the least of thee, the DOE should have the courage to invest in such institutions, rather than divesting from them.
Walter T. Mosley currently serves as the New York State Assemblyman and District leader for the 57th Assembly District, representing the communities of Fort Greene, Clinton Hill, Prospect Heights and parts of Bedford Stuyvesant and Crown Heights.