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Hands Off Tilden!

SOS Tilden! is a collective of parents, school staff and students concerned about the planned closing of Samuel J. Tilden High School in Brooklyn. For more information or for the time and location of our next meeting send an email to


Latest News

April 5, 2007 -- New York City Public Advocate Betsy Gotbaum is calling the DOE's capital plan a failure. She says the capacity of high schools in the five boroughs will be 6,000 seats short.

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March 16, 2007 -- The DOE has given Brooklyn Comprehensive Night School a one-year extension. It was previously scheduled to close after June 2007.

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March 9, 2007 -- Will the the reorganization at Lafayette be challenged with a lawsuit? Community groups are fighting for a plan better tailored for Chinese students in south Brooklyn.

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February 16, 2007 -- The Education Committee of the New York City Council is holding oversight hearings on the New York City Department of Education's small schools initiative. Read testimony given by John Lawhead, a Tilden teacher and Leonie Haimson of Class Size Matters.
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January 30, 2007 -- The Chancellor has announced that two schools with grades 6 through 12 are to be housed at Tilden. One is the It Takes a Village Academy and the other is the Kurt Hahn Expeditionary Learning School. According to the DOE press statement, the schools will each serve "approximately 567 students" when they reach full capacity.

Note that neither of these schools was designed specifically for ESL students. Families of 9th grade recent immigrants from Haiti who seek bilingual services will have the following choices left: Midwood High School (overcrowded to 176% of capacity, according to the DOE school report card), Clara Barton (135%) and John Dewey (134%).

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January 10, 2007 -- The UFT Delegate Assembly has passed a resolution against school closings in New York City as follows.
BE IT RESOLVED THAT the UFT reaffirm its policy that the Department of Education refrain from closing/redesigning schools until independent studies are done to assess the effectiveness of its newly designed schools, as well as the overall impact of closing/redesigning schools on students, staff and communities throughout New York City; and
BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED THAT the UFT publicize the need for full funding of all schools, with particular attention paid to calling for extra funding for troubled schools in order to lower class sizes, to provide modern up-to-date facilities, and to establish safe and stable environments, as an alternative to closing schools and displacing students and staff, with the result of overcrowding neighboring schools.


Tilden in the News

Small Order: City Leaders Want Kids Out of Large Schools, Village Voice (4-10-07)

High School Breakups Cause Pain, Hope, Brooklyn Downtown Star (2-22-07)

Teachers Battle to Keep Tilden Open, The Chief-Leader (2-17-07)

Tilden H.S. Faithful Buck DOE Phase-Out, Flatbush Life (12-15-07)

Staff Fighting to Save Tilden, New York Teacher (2-14-07)



News from Targeted High Schools




Teachers, families and community
activists have been fighting the
takeover of a wing of this Chicago
neighborhood high school by
a military academy since
2004. Visit




Announcing the Death of Brooklyn Comprenhensive

"Life as a Car" by Floraine Kay



Elected Officials Are Speaking Out for Tilden



“We want to give the planners and policymakers sufficient and appropriate opportunities to do their jobs but we do want some respect and a role to play in that. Parents need to be involved, community leaders need to be involved in a really significant way.”

Quoted by Flatbush Life (12-21-06)



N. Nick Perry
New York State Assembly
58th District, Brooklyn


Lewis A. Fidler
City Councilmember
46th District, Brooklyn




Councilman Lewis Fidler has denounced the DOE for the cynical way it steered enrollment away from Tilden and South Shore High School and then declared them "underutilized."

On February 6, 2007, participated in the Town Hall meeting in Tilden's auditorium.

Urge your local representatives to make a public statement!

John Sampson, N.Y. State Senate, 19th District
Brooklyn office: 718-649-7653
Email Senator Sampson

Eric Adams, N.Y. State Senate, 20th District
Brooklyn office: (718) 284-4700
Email Senator Adams

Kevin S. Parker, N.Y. State Senate, 21st District
Brooklyn office: 718-629-6401
Email Senator Parker

Helene E. Weinstein, N.Y. State Assembly, 41st District
Brooklyn office: 718-648-4700
Email Assemblywoman Weinstein

Rhoda S. Jacobs, N.Y. State Assembly, 42nd District
Brooklyn office: 718-434-0446
Email Assemblywoman Jacobs

Karim Camara, N.Y. State Assembly, 43rd District
Brooklyn office: (718) 756-1776
Email Assemblyman Camara

Annette M. Robinson, N.Y. State Assembly, 56th District
Brooklyn office: 718-399-7630

Kendall Stewart, New York City Council, District 45
Brooklyn office: 718-951-8177
Email Councilman Stewart

From an Alumni
I was a graduate of Tilden in 1961. This was a great school and a wonderful learning opportunity.

Please don't shut this school down but give it a chance to flourish again by addressing the problems. I'm sure many good people, both students and teachers, want to make the Tilden experience as great as it once was back in the 50's and 60's.

Give Tilden a chance!
Richard Shames
Statements should be directed to
The Large School Whipping Boy
A Local Artist's Conception
larger view



School Quality Report
for Samuel J. Tilden High School
So Many Schools, So Few Options:
How Mayor's Bloomberg Small Schools Reforms
Deny Full Access to English Language Learners
Annual Report of the Citywide Council
on High Schools (2005-2006)


What's Wrong with the Phase-out Plan?

It's a shabby, arbitrary process.

On December 11, 2006 the DOE announced that Samuel J. Tilden High School will be closed. The phase-out will begin in eptember 2007. The announcement came nearly two weeks after the deadline for proposals for new schools to replace Tilden. There was no attempt to consult the community or solicit local proposals or partnerships for a redesign.

After spending $25 million to evaluate New York City schools the DOE ignored its own data. Reviewers from Britain had scored Tilden “proficient” overall and noted its success with English Language Learners. In its hasty judgment the DOE also didn't care that our new principal was only given a year to improve the school before it was doomed.

Closing a few schools is only a distraction from a system-wide crisis.

Much of what has been said by DOE and Region 6 administrators about Tilden can be said about dozens of other city high schools. Like Tilden these other schools have faced severe overcrowding under the impact of neighboring schools being closed. They suffer from chronic underfunding and large class-sizes that are 50 to 60 percent higher than schools in the rest of the state.Condemning Tilden is a way of deflecting responsibility for low graduation rates throughout the city. New York State calculates the city's graduation rate at 43 percent. DOE officials have pumped up the figure to 58 percent, partly by counting recipients of GEDs as high school graduates and also by not counting thousands of mysterious “transfers.”

Region 6 Superintendent Jean-Claude Brizard wrote a letter to Tilden's parents on December 12 , declaring the major problem was that Tilden was “not on track” to meet the city's goal of “raising the city-wide 4-year graduation rate to 70% and the 6-year graduation rate to 80%.” Not only do these officials exaggerate the success of the city's high schools but they want to scapegoat individual schools they have mismanaged as though they were autonomous businesses.

The redesign of neighborhood schools is becoming a way to slash educational services.

The DOE permits new small schools to exclude English Language Learners and Special Education students for their first two years. Many long established programs at Tilden including the Haitian Creole bilingual program will be gone and not placed anywhere. If this is allowed to happen one shudders to think what would come next. Let's not let it happen!

Send your comments!