Families outraged over Frederick Douglass Academy’s failing grade — but are afraid to speak out

It remains unclear why the Harlem academy fell so drastically from an adequate  grade of a C to a failing one. Also unclear: what will be done.

Eff this!

Frederick Douglass Academy in East Harlem was given a failing grade by the Department of Education earlier this month and students, while outraged, are afraid to speak out.

Frederick Douglass Academy in East Harlem was given a failing grade by the Department of Education earlier this month and students, while outraged, are afraid to speak out.

The once-prestigious Frederick Douglass Academy in Harlem got an F on the  city’s latest report cards this month — and families are livid.

“I’m really angry,” said one fuming woman who sends her 12-year-old grandson  to the school on Adam Clayton Powell Jr. Blvd. and 148th St. “I want my grandson  to do well, but they are making it hard.”

The 44-year-old woman — who declined to be identified citing possible  retaliation from the school — said the academy “is acting like everything is  good,” despite the failing grade. Her grandson, a seventh grader, agreed.

“My teachers don’t give me credit for my homework that I turn in,” he said,  voicing fears that his own grades could prevent him from achieving his dream of  being a lawyer . “I’m working hard, and I’m failing.”

The Department of Education grades public schools on their performance each  year, examining factors like the school’s environment and how well the  institution prepares students for college and a career.

 Only last month, The News ranked the academy as the 29th best public high  school in the city, praising it for “an environment of order, maturity and  seriousness.”

But it remains unclear why the Douglass Academy fell so drastically from a C  grade to a failing one in such a short period of time. It is also unclear what  will be done to check the school’s decline.

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New Noel Calloway Indie Film Captures Fatherlessness in Black Community

*Writer and director Noel Calloway comes from the stereotypical single parent home.

life-soul-loveBorn and raised in Harlem with an absentee father, Calloway landed in foster care when both parents were incarcerated.

Despite a difficult childhood, Calloway chose the books, and finished high school at the Frederick Douglass Academy and headed South to study film at Clark Atlanta University in Atlanta.

Single parent homes aren’t so uncommon across the nation. Years of research and life experience have shown that the lack of a father figure in the household has a tremendous impact on Black boys (and girls). From a struggling single mother to a path to the streets, boys are frequently forced to make serious life choices at a young age. The U.S. Census Bureau says 24 million children in America are living without the presence of their biological father.

Calloway, who can testify to the challenges of a difficult childhood, uses his own life story to capture a national epidemic in his debut film, “Life, Love, Soul.”

He tells the story of a young man estranged from his father who is forced to re-connect when tragedy strikes home. As the emotional tale unfolds, “Life, Love, Soul” tugs at feelings of abandonment, resentment, and loss in a story of a son left behind.

The film has been tapped as the opener for the first annual Fatherhood Image Film Festival on August 8 at 8 p.m. at the MIST Harlem Theatre, located at 46 W. 116th Street in Harlem, New York.

The four-day festival will focus on the state of fatherhood, beginning with the images portrayed in the media.

“Life, Love, Soul” will be released on DVD Aug. 27, 2013 and will be available on In Demand as well as iTunes.

It’s never been a better time for a film like this, given the plight of Black America.

“Life, Love, Soul” enters the conversation with an ensemble cast, including Chad Coleman (“The Walking Dead” and  “The Wire”), Jamie Hector ( “Night Catches Us” and “The Wire”),  Terri J Vaughn (“Meet The Browns”), Tami Roman (“Basketball Wives”), plus Grammy-winning singer/songwriter Valerie Simpson (of musical duo Ashford and Simpson)  in her acting debut and newcomer Robbie Tate-Brickle.

Harlem poet fighting to save nabe’s name wins Apollo Amateur Night

It’s not SoHa or SpaHa, just Harlem, she says

A Harlem poet, who is fighting to preserve the name of her beloved neighborhood, took first place at the Apollo Theater’s Amateur Night for her original piece focused on the ongoing gentrification that has rattled the nerves of many long-time residents.

Harlem's Jaylene Clark who won first place at Amateur Night at the Apollo.  Jaylene Clark, 23, said she was brought to tears when it was announced she was the winner of the world famous talent show on Wednesday.

“I was overwhelmed with emotion,” said the spoken word artist. “I just felt so blessed because I’m from Harlem, and this is a legendary stage.”

In Clark’s poem she addresses issues of gentrification in Harlem, specifically the altered names that have been given to her hometown.

“By calling it SoHa or SpaHa, you aim to make it sound chic, hip and cool; like in every Harlem apartment there’s a security camera and a doorman in the vestibule,” Clark says as part of her performance.

“But if you ask me, nothing sounds cooler than living in Harlem!”

Clark, who graduated from the Frederick Douglass Academy and Ithaca College, continued to express her pride for Harlem and her disappointment with the new names that have popped up on signs, like SpaHa (Spanish Harlem), SoHa (South Harlem), SoMar (South of Marcus Garvey Park), E-Ha (East Harlem) and We-Ha (West Harlem).

“If I wasn’t from here, yet wanted to move here, it would be the culture and the history that would make me choose it,” she says during her act. “Not the actual ridiculous names that I’ve heard like SoHa and SoMar and E-Ha and We-Ha. No Ha’s. Just Harlem.”

But Clark said she’s not against the changes that have come to her neighborhood.

“Harlem is changing, but one thing that needs not to change is its name,” she told the Daily News.

Amateur Night is notoriously known for its tough crowd, but Clark was able to keep the audience on her side.

“I think the crowd really understood what I was talking about,” she said. “I feel like the content was a big factor…It’s about keeping Harlem what it is, and people really connected to it.”

The News first wrote about Clark and her three friends – known as the Harlem KW Project – who collectively penned a play called, “Renaissance in the Belly of a Killer Whale.” The traveling play also focuses on the gentrification of Harlem.

Clark’s Amateur Night performance was a piece of the play that has already had a successful run at the National Black Theatre.

Clark will return to Amateur Night on Feb. 29 with a chance to advance to the next round of the competition, which offers a $10,000 grand prize.

Still, Clark said in her poem that she’s not against the new faces that have moved into the neighborhood.

“This is not about saying, ‘This one is not welcome, or that one is taking control of our neighborhood. It’s not about pointing fingers or assigning blame,” she said at the end of her performance. “We welcome positive change in Harlem. But if you’re going to come here, live here, see here, at least have the decency to call her by her name – Harlem.”

Read more: http://www.nydailynews.com/news/harlem-poet-fighting-save-nabe-wins-apollo-amateur-night-article-1.1024145#ixzz1mhEuv1WM

By Michael J. Feeney / NEW YORK DAILY NEWS

Possibility of 5 Schools Closing in Harlem

Seven Manhattan schoolsnearly all of them located in Harlem — may be closed due to poor performance, the Department of Education announced on Thursday.

The schools are among up to 47 citywide that have been struggling academically and could be eventually shuttered, a big uptick over the numbers from previous years.

“Too many kids are stuck in failing schools,” DOE Deputy Press Secretary Jack Zarin-Rosenfeld said in a statement.

“Right now, we are looking at those schools that have been consistently struggling to determine whether they can improve with help or need to be replaced with a new school.”

Harlem Classroom

Harlem Classroom

How will the process take place?

Essentially it turns into a process of each school being “phased-out”. They’ll stop enrolling new classes which in turn causes them to loose a class/grade each year until the school no longer exists. During this process the new school will begin to take on new classes/grades until the school fills up.

The High School of Graphic Communication Arts (M625) in Chelsea has persistently done poorly and could be proposed for phase-out.

Five Harlem schools that were supposed to be closed last year but got a reprieve when the teachers’ union and the N.A.A.C.P filed a lawsuit could also be closed.

The schools include

  • Frederick Douglass Academy
  • Academy of Collaborative Education
  • Kappa II
  • Academy of Environmental Science Secondary High School
  • Choir Academy of Harlem.
  • I.S. 195, Roberto Clemente in Harlem is also on the potential closure list for the first time.

“Before we make any decisions, we are meeting with their administrators, teachers and parents to determine the best path forward. But we need to do right by our kids, and that will involve some difficult decisions,” Zarin-Rosenfeld said.

More schools could be added or subtracted from the list in upcoming weeks as the state’s list of persistently lowest achieving schools comes out. Also, new high school progress report data will come out soon which could potentially add more high schools to the list, Zarin-Rosenfeld said.

Not all of the schools on the list will be closed, some may just need a change in leadership or a different curriculum, Zarin-Rosenfeld said.

Last year the DOE started with about 50 struggling schools and eventually whittled the list down to 19 which were actually proposed for phase-out.

Final decisions on closures will be made by the end of November to early December for elementary and middle schools and mid-December for high schools.

One Manhattan school is off the chopping block for the time being. Washington Irving High School is among the state’s lowest achieving schools, but it will not be closed because of a new incoming principal and other improvements, the paper reported.

Read more: http://www.dnainfo.com/20101028/manhattan/seven-manhattan-schools-mdash-5-of-them-harlem-mdash-face-closure-report-says#ixzz13hpahIRQ