Education Letter to the Editor

Gates Owes Students Whose Schools Were Closed

June 07, 2011 1 min read

To the Editor:

I hope those at the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation read over a recent report concerning small schools put out by the Urban Youth Collaborative in New York City and the Annenberg Institute for School Reform at Brown University. The report takes a closer look at school closures in New York City and the effect those closures have had on the student population (“School Closures,” April 27, 2011).

According to the report, many of the 33,000 students registered at high schools that were closed since 2000 have either dropped out, failed to graduate, or been discharged. Only 9,592 students graduated and, of that number, just 15 percent got a state regents’ diploma, compared with 41 percent citywide.

I blame the Gates Foundation for this travesty. It helped fund 200 small schools in New York City, and most of those schools came about by breaking up bigger high schools into smaller ones. Now, data have confirmed what real educators have known all along—that phasing out schools is destructive to student well-being.

The big question for the Gates Foundation is how can it best help those students who have been deprived of an education. Saying nothing and continuing with the same ideology is not the answer. Restitution, I believe, is a better answer. Under this arrangement, the foundation should do what it can to track down each one of those students who did not graduate from high school and provide them with the money they need to complete their educations. If the foundation wants to be really decent about it, it should help out with college expenses.

It is time for Gates Foundation officials to realize that lousy ideas wreck lives. They need to pay up.

Walter Weis

Forest Hills, N.Y.

A version of this article appeared in the June 08, 2011 edition of Education Week as Gates Owes Students Whose Schools Were Closed