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Thursday, October 23, 2014
POINTS OF VIEW

Don’t obliterate Clinton’s future

By Syed Ali
Posted

 

DeWitt Clinton High School should not be closed. That would accomplish nothing and would waste a valuable and unique opportunity. 

It has been argued that the history of a school does not matter, that it is only the present activities of the school that matters.

That is not the version of history that I learned at DeWitt Clinton. I learned that the past is important, that it is critical to the present. DeWitt Clinton High School has a story that stretches over 115 years, starring hundreds of thousands of students, parents, faculty and staff. 

Precisely because of its great history, DeWitt Clinton High School presents amazing opportunities. Educators can leverage the school’s past to create unique, tailored educational materials that would raise standards like never before. Students can read literature crafted by such alumni as James Baldwin and Countee Cullen. Students can study the intersections of science and history through such works as the biology textbook that was at the heart of the Scopes Monkey Trial, written by a DeWitt teacher.

DeWitt Clinton’s thousands of living alumni are also a resource that would be a shame to waste. The alumni association claims to be the largest high school alumni association in the world, and includes executives at top companies in the New York City metropolitan area. The mentorship that could be provided would be unrivaled. Many DWCHS alumni are educators. Bring them back home, if you can. 

Regardless, the students of DeWitt Clinton are in dire need of resilient teachers and administrators who can understand where they are coming from and how to address their needs. Many of the students that the high school currently serves are undeniably some of the neediest children in the City of New York. Many of these students come from broken homes, impoverished backgrounds and may not speak English as a first language. The Department of Education has already failed to adequately serve many of these students before they matriculate to DeWitt Clinton. 

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