The world of New York education made news lately--good, bad, cultural and ugly. It does seem sometimes that the latest energy adrift in the zeitgeist gets played out in school yards across the town, and today is no exception:
The Good: Brooklyn Principal to be honored for dedication to Haitian relief
When 70 survivors of the earthquake-ravaged Haiti enrolled at Crowne Heights Public School in Brooklyn, Principal Berthe Faustin was more than ready.
As the anniversary of the disaster approaches, the Port-Au-Prince native is being honored for her work with the survivors that struggled to adapt to post-quake life.
The students, traumatized by the disaster, would often burst into tears and remained withdrawn from the school.
In order to help the students cope, Faustin and the school organized art therapy classes and set up specialized counseling sessions for the survivors and their families.
The Bad: Closings of two NYC schools sets communities on edge
The announcement that two of the city's schools are close to meeting their end have sparked outcry from their communities.
The Academy of Scholarship and Entrepreneurship The Academy of Scholarship and Entrepreneurship, a middle school in Bronxwood, will be terminated after years of poor performance. Sixth-graders will no longer be accepted after this year and the Department of Education has no plans to replace the middle school seats either.
Members of the community worry that the number of middle school seats in District 11 are diminishing, though the DOE insists that there are enough seats in the district.
The DOE will hold two meetings with the community to discuss the issue, the first of which will take place next Thursday.
Meanwhile, Peninsula Preparatory Charter School in Rockaway, Queens will close after being award a grade of C by the DOE.
The decision to close the school, which was in the middle of the pack of charter schools in terms of performance, is highly unusual. Until now, the city's rate of closing charter schools has been about four percent since the charters were granted by the state in 1999. That number is lower than the national average - 15 percent since 1992.
The recommendation signals Chancellor Dennis Walcott's decision to hold charter schools to a higher standard than other public schools.
The Cultural: Religious organizations turn to God as loss of worship space draws nearer
After losing the 16-year legal battle with New York City to allow religious worship in public schools, religious organizations have turned to praying, fasting and repentance in a last-ditch effort to keep their worship space.
Worshipers, facing expulsion on Feb. 12, are turning their pleas to god, praying that it will soften Mayor Michael Bloomberg's heart.
In 2001, the Supreme Court ruled that religious organizations should have the same access to public school space as other clubs and organizations do. However, a federal appeals court ruled that it was legal for schools to ban religious worship in schools.
On Dec. 5, 2011, the Supreme Court announced that it did not intend to review the lower court's decision to allow this, despite the pleas of the Bronx Household of Faith. That same day, the city announced that the roughly 160 religious organizations currently using public school space worship would have to stop doing so by Feb. 12, 2012.
The Ugly: Bronx principal faces dismissal after taking money from the school
The city's Department of Education is recommending that Bronx principal Lisa Cruz Diaz be fired after she racked up at least $5,000 by falsifying her time cards and spending school funds on her daughter's sweet sixteen party.
According to a report released Wednesday, Cruz Diaz's secretary, Melissa Carey, would clock her out hours after she left each day.
The probe, which began in July 2010 after a source tipped investigators off, determined that at least $4,878 of Cruz Diaz's overtime pay, which was $40,000 for 900 hours of overtime since 2008, was unearned. They also believe that the amount could be higher.
Investigators also found that Cruz Diaz had used school funds to buy close to $100 of party favors for her daughter's sweet sixteen bash. Cruz Diaz insists that she paid the money back but failed to get a receipt.
Currently she has been moved to desk duties, but the city's DOE is requesting her dismissal. The case has been referred to the Bronx District attorney for possible charges.