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Students, staff defend John Dewey in face of turnaround plans

Anger and uncertainty about the city’s plans to overhaul 33 struggling schools reigned today at a “Fight Back Friday” protest organized by teachers at one of the schools.

The handful of teachers who braved the cold to demonstrate outside John Dewey High School this afternoon were joined by about a dozen students, who all defend the strength of the school’s programs and longtime staff.

Mayor Bloomberg announced last week that in order to secure federal funding, he would require the schools to undergo a process called “turnaround,” in which they will close and reopen immediately with half of the teachers replaced.

Dewey, a large high school with over 2,700 students in southern Brooklyn, is one of 14 schools that had been receiving federal funds to undergo a different process known as “restart.” Teachers said the nonprofit group brought in to manage the school under the restart process, Institute for Student Achievement, has so far revamped Dewey’s schedule and offered new after-school activities to combat truancy. City officials said the relationship would continue even under turnaround.

Teachers said the startling news has already had a negative impact on the school community. Dewey narrowly escaped closure last year and now is set to get a new name as part of the city’s rapid close-and-reopen plan.

“It’s demoralizing,” said Liz Bouiss, a film and media teacher. “I love my students and I stay with them after school every day. Do you think [the students] want to stay next year if this happens?”

Students said they worried that the turnaround would spell the end of after school programs, such as robotics and model congress, and electives in art, film and computer science. Hunter Olson, an 11th-grader, said he was particularly concerned over how the turnaround would affect his senior year of high school

“This is very unfair to me and the other juniors,” he said. “These teachers helped me writing skills, they helped me with my SATs. How is it going to affect my school career if they leave?”

The city is proposing the following 33 schools undergo turnaround:

**Alfred E Smith Career-Tech High School

August Martin High School

Automotive High School

*Banana Kelly High School

Bread & Roses Integrated Arts High School

Bronx High School of Business

Bushwick Community High School

*Cobble Hill School of American Studies

*Flushing High School

**Fordham Leadership Academy

*Franklin D Roosevelt High School

Grover Cleveland High School

**Harlem Renaissance High School

*Herbert H Lehman High School

**High School of Graphic Communication Arts

IS 136 Charles O Dewey

*IS 339

*JHS 22 Jordan L Mott

JHS 80 Mosholu Parkway

**JHS 142 John Philip Sousa

JHS 166 George Gershwin

John Adams High School

John Dewey High School

*John Ericsson Middle School 126

*Long Island City High School

*MS 391

Newtown High School

Richmond High High School

*School for Global Studies

Sheepshead Bay High School

**W H Maxwell Career and Tech High School

*William Cullen Bryant High School

*William E Grady Vocational High SCH

*transformation schools

**PLA schools not implementing a SIG model

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