William Howard Taft High School (New York City)
Taft H.S. is located on Sheridan Avenue and 172nd Street in the Bronx. In the early 1970s, Taft H.S. earned a reputation as a "failing school" with many of the problems of other high schools in poor, marginalized neighborhoods in New York City.
Founded in the 1940s, Taft originally served the largely homogeneous population of the surrounding area. In the post-war years of the forties, fifties and sixties, famous graduates included director Stanley Kubrick, producer Jerry Weintraub and singers Eydie Gormé, Chuck Negron, and Luther Vandross.
Demographic changes in the sixties, the exodus of the homogeneous population, and the advent of specialized magnet schools brought about shifts in enrollment at Taft HS. During the Abraham Beame (1974–77) and Edward Koch (1978–89) Administrations, there was no priority given to the needs of the shifting demographics in the school community. City-wide, crime rates were high and unfavorable publicity further accelerated the decline of the school. Entering the 1990s, as a non-selective high school, it was unable to compete with the newer schools housing magnet programs that attracted prime students from throughout the borough. Crime intimidated vibrant young professionals from teaching at the high school. The danger was highlighted in May 1997, when Jonathan Levin, an English teacher at the school and the son of former Time Warner chairman Gerald M. Levin, was murdered by a former student in his Manhattan apartment.
Due to the above-mentioned demographic changes, of the 629 students attending Taft in the 1990s, the majority were Hispanic and African-American. On any given day, attendance hovered around 86%. The impoverished community, lacking in political clout or a cohesive PTA, was provided 10 truancy officers, rather than improved education strategies. The last graduating class of Taft High School was in June 2008. Within the same building, the previously identified "failing school" has been transformed into a series of small specialized high schools to meet modern career needs. The specialty schools are:
- Bronx High School for Medical Science
- Bronx High School of Business
- Bronx Collegiate Academy (formerly Bronx Expeditionary Learning High School)
- DreamYard Preparatory School
- Jonathan Levin High School for Media and Communications
- The Urban Assembly Academy for History and Citizenship for Young Men
- "Bronx High School for Medical Science". New York City Department of Education. Retrieved 2012-04-21.
- "Bronx High School of Business". New York City Department of Education. Retrieved 2012-04-21.
- "Bronx Collegiate Academy". New York City Department of Education. Retrieved 2012-04-21.
- "Bronx Collegiate Academy". InsideSchools.org. Retrieved 2012-04-21.
- "DreamYard Preparatory School". New York City Department of Education. Retrieved 2012-04-21.
- "Jonathan Levin High School for Media and Communications". New York City Department of Education. Retrieved 2012-04-21.
- "The Urban Assembly Academy for History and Citizenship for Young Men". New York City Department of Education. Retrieved 2012-04-21.
||This article includes a list of references, but its sources remain unclear because it has insufficient inline citations. (April 2009)|
- New York City Board of Education page[dead link]
- Article by Michael Winerip
- School profile and article from Insideschools.org (also source of new schools in the building)
- Article on pregnant students[dead link]