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[Susan notes: This is a great letter, pointing to the fact that 'new' small schools are being erected on the graves of existing alternative schools, which were killed to make way for the new deal. This sad story is being repeated across the country, all in the name of "reform."


Published in New York Times

To the editor

Mayor Michael R. Bloomberg's plans for education ("Mayor Plans New Education Measures, Including Reshaping 8 Troubled High Schools," news article, Nov. 18) leave me incredulous. In 2002, he dismantled a network of more than 15 alternative high schools, which had graduated thousands of youngsters since the early 1970's; at a cost of millions, he now promises "transfer" high schools - precisely what the old alternative schools were.

More astounding is the notion that "troubled" high schools should develop "small learning communities." Between 1987 and 1990, the city spent untold amounts of money restructuring every city high school into "houses." Not a vestige of the houses or the money spent remains: union rules, tradition and inadequate implementation obliterated them, as has happened to similar units across the country. By 1990, the old Board of Education declared failure and began opening "new small schools," a process that continues.

The mayor's handling of education has shown a total disregard for anything predating his administration, an error costing taxpayers money, and countless students their educations.

The writer is a former superintendent of alternative high schools and programs, New York City Board of Education.

Stephen E. Phillips

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