Wednesday, July 13, 2011

Wednesday July 13: Keep Miami Central & Miami Edison Open

By Sylvia Gurinsky

Here's a chance for Gov. Rick Scott to raise that horrible 29 percent approval rating: By joining the campaign to keep Miami Central and Miami Edison high schools open.

Since 2008, both schools have been on what amounts to a probationary list by the state of Florida for consecutive FCAT scores of "F." Both schools have improved to a "C" by changing administrators, teachers and teaching policies. Miami Central even got a high-profile visit earlier this year from President Barack Obama, who was accompanied by former Gov. Jeb Bush.

Both schools are historic: Miami Edison's origins in Lemon City predate the incorporation of the City of Miami; its alumni include former U.S. Sen. Bob Graham. Miami Central's opening coincided with the beginning of the Space Age; its sports teams are named the Rockets.

The schools apparently had some FCAT fallback this year because of guideline changes.

Alternatives for the schools include closing them, privatizing them or turning them into charter schools. Entrepreneurs of the latter two are probably licking their chops at the possibilities, while parents, students, teachers, administrators and community members are agonizing at the possible marginalization of two central places in the Liberty City and Little Haiti communities.

To his credit, Miami-Dade School Superintendent Alberto Carvalho has vowed to fight to keep Miami Edison and Miami Central open as public schools. Will any of this influence Florida's Board of Education and interim Education Commissioner John Winn?

Some heavier hitters will be needed. For sure, Bush and Graham need to get involved in saving these schools. Miami New Times' recommendation of a student sit-in isn't a bad idea. Some legal help might be needed, too; the question of whether closing or altering the schools might be considered a discriminatory move in these communities is relevant.

But the person with the biggest influence currently lives at 10 Adams Street in Tallahassee. Rick Scott can gain a lot of goodwill if he persuades Winn and the board to keep the doors fully open at Miami Central and Miami Edison.

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