Theodore Roosevelt High School (New York City)
Theodore Roosevelt High School was a large public high school in the Bronx. Fully named Roosevelt High School, apparently after the eminent Roosevelt family of New York, at its opening in November 1918, it was renamed Theodore Roosevelt High School soon after Theodore Roosevelt died in January 1919. Conducted within the building of school PS 31, the courses trained accounting and secretarial skills, drew snowballing enrollment, and gained more classrooms elsewhere. In 1928, entering its own building, newly built at 500 East Fordham Road, the Theodore Roosevelt High School became one of America's largest and best equipped high schools.
Sitting at the southern edge of Fordham University's campus and the northern edge of the Bronx's Belmont section, the high school's building became a community venue for politicians' speeches and organizations' meetings. The school colors were red and white, and the sports teams were the Rough Riders—nickname of the cavalry unit led by Colonel Roosevelt before he became US President—though the mascot became a teddy bear. Its 1930s and 1940s students participated extracurricularly at roughly 50% or New York City's lowest rate. Yet Roosevelt well performed its educational role, preparing students for the basic workforce, the school's image enduring into the 1950s.
In the 1960s, other high schools' students earned diplomas via Roosevelt's night classes and summer sessions while drug culture's emergence dissolved ethnic hostilities whereby a local gang, the Baldies, mostly Italian, had diminished enrollment by blacks and Hispanics, who amid halting economic progress began drug selling, common at Roosevelt by 1970, although heroin use lowered gang violence. Yet atop national stagflation, the 1970s brought New York City's financial crisis, urban decay, soaring crime rates, and white flight. The Bronx entered 1980 as urban decay's very portrait, and its high schools became notorious as the city's worst, while the crack epidemic struck, socially devastating Roosevelt.
Children living in New York City's most criminal and violent area, policed by the city's most corrupt and violent officers, were zoned to Theodore Roosevelt High School, which had the city's highest dropout rate in 1984. In 1986, efforts began at Roosevelt to raise school attendance. Yet improvement was negligible until a vigorous new principal, Thelma Baxter, hired in 1992, led an astonishing turnaround. The revival was cut short by Baxter's 1999 promotion to superintendent of schools in central Harlem, whereupon the Bronx high school's deterioration rapidly resumed. In 2001, the city's Department of Education, ordered by the state's, commanded the high school to begin shutdown. In 2002, Roosevelt accepted its final freshman class, which graduated at 3% in 2006, whereupon Roosevelt closed. New since 2002, several small public high schools now occupy the building, Theodore Roosevelt Educational Campus. From the late 1930s to 1960s, at least five individuals later esteemed as celebrities—Hollywood actress June Allyson, baseball player Rocky Colavito, lead guitarist Ace Frehley, actor/screenwriter Chazz Palminteri, and comedian/actor Jimmie Walker—had attended the Theodore Roosevelt High School.
- 1 Origination: 1910s–20s
- 2 Continuation: 1930s–60s
- 3 Deterioration: 1970s–80s
- 4 Rejuvenation: 1990s
- 5 Termination: 2000s
- 6 References
In the early 20th century, American educators sought to expand and tailor schooling, then extend school enrollment into adolescence, seen as a prime opportunity for proper socialization, especially to assimilate the rapidly growing immigrant populations in cities. Newly defining or even creating the transition from childhood to adulthood, high schools became venues where youth vied for control over identity, behavior, and allegiance, while the 19th-century esteem for Protestant respectability eroded amid emerging quests for intricate cosmopolitanism. In a multiethnic city like New York, the high school was intentionally employed as a fundamental agent of socialization. Entering 1918, the Bronx had two high schools: Morris and Evander Childs.
The Roosevelt High School was organized on November 14, 1918, from the commercial classes comprising a Morris High School annex conducted in PS 31 at 144th Street and Mott Avenue, thereupon Roosevelt's location. Initially led by teacher Edward M Williams, Roosevelt's 830 students got their first principal—William R Hayward—on December 9, 1918. On January 8, 1919, two days after the earlier United States President Theodore Roosevelt, the Progressive era leader born in Manhattan, had died, New York City schools' Board of Superintendents proposed a name change, approved two days later by the New York City Board of Education. The next day, principal Hayward announced the Theodore Roosevelt High School, and sought its namesake's spirit to preside over it. Rapidly growing, Theodore Roosevelt High School gained its own annex—16 classrooms in PS 47—on January 22, 1919.
From 1900 to 1920, New York City's fastest growing borough was the Bronx, whose population grew over two and a half times in that period. At 1922, the Bronx Board of Trade concluded, "It is probably due to the fact that its housing conditions are of the best that The Bronx for years has had the lowest death rate and the highest birth rate of any of the Boroughs". In the Bronx from 1901 to 1920, nearly $457 million was spent on building construction—some $24 million per year—but 1921 saw a spending record, over $75 million. Yankee Stadium opened in 1923. By 1922, Theodore Roosevelt had over 1460 commercial students, focusing on either accounting or secretarial skills in courses ranging from one to four years. The school obtained a second annex on September 25, 1925 (in PS 70), a third on February 1, 1926 (in PS 73), and a fourth on February 1, 1928 (in PS 39 in Manhattan).
By 1920, there had been a call to construct for Theodore Roosevelt High School its own building. Entering its ninth year, Roosevelt carried over 150 teachers and 4000 students. Yet in 1926, ground had been broken on May 18 and the cornerstone laid on November 17 for Theodore Roosevelt High School's building, which opened in September 1928. The high school was in the Bronx on Fordham Road, across the street from Fordham University, founded in 1841, whose sprawling campus of Collegiate Gothic buildings was several street blocks east of the Grand Concourse. From 1920 to 1930, rented mostly by affluent doctors, lawyers, and businessmen, upscale apartments rapidly went up along the Grand Concourse—apartments highly coveted—where up to some 80% of residents were Jews, leading the Bronx's rapid growth of population, permitted by rapid travel from lower Manhattan on newly built subway lines connected to Bronx trolley lines.
Starting in 1929, the Great Depression damaged many livelihoods in the Bronx. And yet the borough's Democratic Party's boss, Edward J Flynn, had close ties with Franklin D Roosevelt—cousin of Theodore Roosevelt and previously New York state's governor—who became US President in 1933. Via Flynn's influence, US government then heavily subsidized public works in the Bronx, whose Central Post Office, Triborough Bridge, Whitestone Bridge, and Orchard Beach were built, while parks and schools were revitalized, in the 1930s. Reachable locally by trollies, Orchard Beach, unlike the carnival atmosphere at Coney Island in Brooklyn, had elegant bathhouses, and was called by a community leader "The Riviera of the Bronx". And yet the Bronx retained plenty farmland even in the 1940s. Covering two city blocks square, Theodore Roosevelt High School's building was among America's largest and best equipped with science laboratories, sewing and music rooms, automotive and woodworking shops.
Theodore Roosevelt High School's area was mostly of American whites, while Irish was the predominant minority group, Italians and Jews were increasing, and there were very few blacks. Having fled potato famine in the 19th century and found jobs in America largely laying railroads, the Irish were the earliest immigrants, and, dominating the high school's immediate neighborhood, frequently harassed Jews, whose families, however, were usually fervent about education. The high school was in the Bronx's Belmont section, which soon became a Little Italy represented highly in Roosevelt's student body. Altogether, Roosevelt students came from diverse neighborhoods, including the Bronx's affluent strip, the Grand Concourse, whose luxury apartment buildings, built in the 1920s, were largely usurped by young professionals, mostly Jews.
In 1930, holding a master's degree in education from Columbia University, Sarah L Delany had had severe trouble finding a job in her area of expertise, and maneuvered to be hired without administration of a particular high school having met her. A shocking sight on her first day of work—an American black showing up to begin teaching at a "white high school"—Delany became an awkward presence, but, once hired through bureaucratic formality, posed too great a difficultly to fire. Theodore Roosevelt thus became New York City's first high school to employ a nonwhite teacher of home economics. Decades after retiring in 1960, Delany rejoiced, "I spent the rest of my career teaching at excellent high schools!" But by the 1950s, despite large emigration of blacks and Hispanics from the American South and the Caribbean to New York City, members of a gang, the Baldies, white and mostly Italian, menaced them in the neighborhood of Roosevelt, whose enrollment remained overwhelmingly white.
Focused on adolescence as a period to integrate youth, especially from immigrant populations, into society via high school, American educators emphasized voluntary participation in extracurricular activities. From 1931 to 1947, some 80% of graduates from New York City high schools had been extracurricularly active, as in sports or clubs. Participation was highest, 99%, at Bay Ridge High School, a girls' school in Brooklyn, and was lowest, 56%, at Theodore Roosevelt High School.
Throughout the city, some 75% of blacks participated extracurricularly, but black boys' prominence only on track teams suggests a strong exclusionary bias. Many parents, especially of recent immigration, wanted their daughters away from men, a factor important to Italians, comprising nearly one in three of Bay Ridge High School's students, who commuted from a wide area since parents viewed this school as "safe", like a parochial school. Though the Brooklyn section Bay Ridge was heavily American white—as were one in four of its high school's students—perhaps faculty encouraged universal involvement and prevented spontaneous ethnic segregation, as Italian girls and the few black girls alike were extracurricularly involved far more than elsewhere, a stark contrast from black boys at Roosevelt.
In 1938, while still a Roosevelt student, June Allyson made it onto the Broadway chorus line Sing Out the News. With World War II's 1939 outbreak, curricula at American public schools were redirected toward a war effort. On October 8, 1940, vowing to keep America out the war, Wendell Willkie, the Republican Party's candidate for US Presidency in that year's election, gave a speech at Theodore Roosevelt High School, and died that day in 1944. By then, Allyson had become "the apple of Hollywood's eye in the war years and everyone's notion of the girl next door". Meanwhile, preparing students less for college entrance than for practical jobs, Roosevelt "wasn't a progressive academic institution" and "never was".
On a rainy day, October 21, 1944, campaigning for reelection, President Franklin D Roosevelt rode by motorcade through the Bronx tiredly waving, while children in onlooking crowds apprehended a connection to a world outside the Bronx. For many adults, including some who taught at Roosevelt, the 1945 death of President FDR—in the White House a dozen years while leading America through the Great Depression and World War II—severed a sense of continuity with the past. In 1947, opposing communism, Catholic War Veterans of New York accused the city's Board of Education of aiding subversives by letting communist group American Youth for Democracy hold meetings in Roosevelt's building, used by diverse organizations.
In the late 1940s, Rocco Colavito, born in 1933 in the Bronx, dropped out Roosevelt after his sophomore year to play semipro baseball. At a Yankee Stadium tryout, after just one throw, Colavito was coveted by a scout for Cleveland's Minor League team and signed a contract at age 17. By the late 1950s, on Cleveland's Major League team, he had inspired fans' maxim Don't knock the Rock, known as "everything a ballplayer should be". In the 1959 baseball season, a June 10 article in the Sporting News named Rocky Colavito the American League player most likely to break Babe Ruth's record of 60 home runs in a season. Yet Rocky experienced a slump, and was traded by Frank "Trader" Lane to the Detroit Tigers in 1960. Upon sportswriter Terry Pluto's 1994 "loving tale" of a curse on the Cleveland Indians ever since, Colavito claimed innocence. Yet recalling "a big mistake", Rocky Colavito had already rued, "I didn't want kids to say, 'He dropped out of school and he made the big leagues'". Meanwhile, in the 1950s, the music group Dion and the Belmonts had emerged from the Bronx's Belmont section.
In the 1960s, newly hired teacher Alfred Posamentier organized Roosevelt's first mathematics teams, yet soon left to join academia and spearhead efforts to improve mathematics teachers' effectiveness. Roosevelt students of the late 1960s included Ace Frehley, later the lead guitarist of Kiss, and Chazz Palminteri, later the actor whose 1988 play A Bronx Tale was partly his own childhood memoir, based in Belmont, adapted to a 1993 screenplay, Robert De Niro's directing debut. Frehley had attended a private Lutheran school but, "too wild", was ejected, went to the public DeWitt Clinton High School, "a progressive place" in the Bronx, but was one of only a couple of students with long hair, refused to cut it, and was transferred to Roosevelt, where he focused on art courses, got bored and dropped out, yet returned and graduated. Palminteri, too, had attended Clinton, but disliked its being all-male and transferred to Roosevelt, where this poor student, who got girls to do his homework, graduated in 1973 at age 21. Although later actor Jimmie Walker's diploma was from Clinton, he met its requirements in 1965 by attending night classes at Roosevelt, whose summer sessions, too, taught students of other high schools.
During the 1950s, US government's policy shifted Puerto Rico's economy from agriculture to manufacturing. Seeking sustainable work, then, many Puerto Ricans emigrated to New York City, where emigrant Southern blacks and Caribbean blacks increasingly emerged from poverty, a progress that slowed in the 1960s and halted by about 1970 amid rising stagflation and US government's focus on the Vietnam War. Previously scarce within American ethnic minority groups, illegal drug selling emerged in the 1960s. Lowering racial tensions, heroin use by adolescents in gangs sent white gang members, seeking heroin, into neighborhoods of blacks and Puerto Ricans, who in turn, no longer menaced by white gang members, increasingly enrolled at Theodore Roosevelt High School, where illegal drug selling became prevalent by the late 1960s. Yet heroin lowered gang violence by providing a new gang style or masculinity measure, while gang members possessing this narcotic sought to diminish police attention.
Trailing the New York City financial crisis that in 1975 nearly closed the city's government—an insurance company bailed out the city once the White House refused to help—was New York City's 1977 blackout, which triggered massive looting that bankrupted stores. Many Bronx neighborhoods, resembling rubble by 1979, went aflame, while apartment buildings were abandoned or else sold to lesser landlords amid severe, rapid urban decay. The view of schools as a collaborative effort emphasized agreement among workers, potentially in the educational bureaucracy for decades, while points of central importance in educating children, each in high school for but a few years, fell off the agenda, dominated by the lowest common denominator of adults' widest agreement. While many educational administrators and officials maneuvered to secure school jobs for families and friends, the children's education got insufficient attention. Although it takes a strong leader, perhaps unpopular, to turn schools around, voters may lack the interest or attention to vote accordingly. Dissatisfied parents who have ample means enroll their children in private schools—or move to other areas.
From 1970 to 1980, New York City's population fell from nearly eight to little over seven million via white flight, while crime, ranging from vandalism to murder, soared, and then the crack epidemic struck Bronx high schools were reputed as the city's worst, while Roosevelt signified the degeneration. In 1984, Theodore Roosevelt High School had New York City's highest dropout rate. In 1986, Roosevelt had a new principal, Paul B Shapiro, and spent an extra $750 thousand—atop its normal budget of $10 million—to raise school attendance.
The territory of the New York City Police Department's 46th Precinct—adjacent westward of the 48th Precinct's that includes Roosevelt—was the most criminal and homicidal of New York City's 75 precincts. The zone high school for neighborhoods policed by the 46th, Roosevelt received those troubles, including police officers menacing local residents and aiding illegal drug dealers. In 1989, a pilot program at Evander Childs High School found metal detectors at student entrances effective, especially as to guns. Among New York City's dozen more public schools deemed most violent, Roosevelt was among the first dozen more to get metal detectors. New York City's homicide rate peaked in 1990.
Able to sneak some metal weapons into school past metal detectors, Roosevelt students faced threats riding public transportation to school. Via the 46th Precinct's territory, Roosevelt's students would sustain the specter of premeditated but random slashings for gang initiations. Versus many other high schools' students, Roosevelt's had been more greatly beset by the specter of AIDS. All of Roosevelt's students lived below the poverty line, while nearly one in three, speaking English as a second language, needed help learning English. Or a student could enter Roosevelt unable to read at all, and, once there, soon cease attending.
Some students kept attending Roosevelt, but barely involved themselves in the schoolwork. Often failing to graduate in four years, or even in five years as "superseniors", some became "ultraseniors", perhaps still Roosevelt students at age 21, when nongraduating students are dropped by the school system. Among New York state's worst schools, Theodore Roosevelt High School was placed on the New York State Department of Education's list failing schools. New York City educational bureaucracy—the appointed seven members of the city's Board of Education, its hired chancellor of the city's schools, the 32 school districts' elected school boards, and the appointed superintendent of each school district—shielded anyone from blame for such deterioration.
In 1992, Thelma B Baxter—whose mother had been Roosevelt's valedictorian in 1923—became Roosevelt's principal. Baxter extended class hours, and ensured that students retained the same teacher in a subject for both semesters during a school year. Though finding "100 percent" of the students poor, she found parents' problems no excuse for staff allowing students to do poorly. Despite having "basically the same school", Baxter ensured that they "put tougher standards in place". Though Baxter was "pugnacious" like the school's namesake, students often stopped by her office to talk, seek advice, or embrace, and Baxter frequently walked the halls while accosting students, newly prohibited from wearing hats inside the building. In a four-year span, Roosevelt students taking the math Regents exam rose from some 200 to over 500.
In January 1996, after three years of rising attendance, test scores, and graduation rate, Theodore Roosevelt High School left the state education department's list of failing schools, and Baxter was the subject of a New York Times editorial. During the next two years, the suspension rate fell some 50%. In September 1997, Baxter had begun "moral and efficacy" seminars where freshmen were shown videos and discussed issues of school attendance and right versus wrong. Roosevelt also began a "Saturday Institute" where some 500 middle-school students and their parents attended workshops and tutoring to help prepare for high school. At Mayor Rudy Giuliani's 1998 initiative to push students in high school beyond five years into night or weekend schools, Baxter pointed out the particular challenges that her students face—such as language barriers and parents returning with them to the Caribbean for significant periods—and asserted that she preferred to keep underperforming students in a "caring atmosphere".
In the early 1990s, Williams College, often ranked America's best liberal arts college, began an exchange program with Roosevelt. Taken from Roosevelt's honors program, and chaperoned by English teacher Frank Brown, select students periodically visited Williams' campus, and, demonstrating commitment to the program, then graduating from Roosevelt, received full scholarships to Williams. Meanwhile, in late 1998, coached by Frank Brown, Roosevelt's soccer team vied against Martin Luther King High School's in the championship game of Public Schools Athletic League (PSAL). During it, Roosevelt learned and immediately alerted PSAL that two of King's star players were ineligible, having played in Nigeria too many high-school seasons. After the game, Roosevelt sought not the 1998 boys soccer title but annulment of King's holding it. Denying the petitions, PSAL maintained that petitions must be filed before a game, a response that coach Brown and principal Baxter found unjust.
In September 1998, to implement at Roosevelt an afterschool program, The After-School Corporation had granted $200 thousand to Phipps Houses, which hired singer Russell Glover, once of the Boys Choir of Harlem, to create and direct it: Superior Effort Afterschool Liberates (SEAL). From 3pm to 5pm, SEAL included 14 activities involving about 400 of Roosevelt's roughly 4000 students. The highlight, as though inspired by Las Vegas and hip hop, was the "Russell Glover Show", three hours long, a revue—including break dancing, fashion show, gymnastics, karate, singing, and other performances, mostly by SEAL participants—that by April 1999, its fourth show, held in Roosevelt's gymnasium, drew a crowd of some 1000 Roosevelt students. A ninth grader remarked, "This show gets kids motivated. It gives you the idea that you can do something with your life". Finding "crossover value" in SEAL activities, Baxter commented, "To prepare to be academically successful, kids need to develop their bodies and minds". Actually, Glover mostly prepared students for job training or hunting. During Baxter's span at Roosevelt, its community partnerships rose from four to thirty. Although Roosevelt still lagged behind other New York City high schools, Roosevelt's rapid and remarkable turnaround brought Baxter a citywide and then national acclaim.
On the evening of November 8, 1995, some 900 people, mostly parents, gathered for about two hours at Theodore Roosevelt High School, where New York City's newly appointed chancellor of schools, Rudy Crew, gave the first of a series of talks in all five city boroughs about Crew's vision for the school system of a little over one million students. Crew vowed that his chancellorship would be "about children first, foremost, finally, and forever". Meanwhile, amid reports of school problems or bureaucratic corruption or incompetence, the city's mayor, Rudy Giuliani, would scorn the city's Board of Education, and once added, "This is why control of schools should be given to the mayor". By 1999, several cities, including Cleveland, Chicago, and Boston, had given mayors more control of schools, but in that year's budget speech, Giuliani instead lamented, "The whole system should be blown up".
In summer 1999, New York City public schools' Chancellor Rudy Crew approved the appointment of Theodore Roosevelt High School's principal Thelma Baxter to a new position—superintendent of School District 5—in central Harlem. Seeking to mimic and expand her Roosevelt successes, Baxter left Roosevelt, which in 2000—graduating 33% of its students in their fourth years versus 50% as the citywide average—returned to the New York State Department of Education's list of failing schools. In 2001, that department ordered the school, also considered violent, to begin shutdown. The last freshman class entered in 2002, and would yield the final graduates in 2006. While several small high schools opened within the building, Roosevelt occupied only the first and fourth of the four stories above ground, but hosted about double the citywide average of reported incidents, ranging from loitering to felony assault.
In January 2004, apparently finding the city's Department of Education too nonchalant, Mayor Michael Bloomberg asserted responsibility for the city's generally underperforming public schools, and announced that some, newly identified as "impact" schools, would get extra police presence. That month, a riot in Roosevelt's suspension center prompted call to list the school among the "Dangerous Dozen". Yet the school's violence had recently fallen, then resurged once the Department of Education placed the suspension center—intended for up to 20 students suspended from various Bronx high schools for infractions ranging from vandalism to striking teachers—on the fourth floor of Roosevelt's building, but reduced its number of security staff. Still, during January, Roosevelt hosted 110 "criminal and disorderly incidents", although it was often unmentioned that many were committed in Roosevelt by students of other high schools.
In April 2004, Mayor Bloomberg announced the addition of Roosevelt, and three other schools, to the list of "impact" schools, especially violent, to get extra police presence. Over a year later, in June 2005, Roosevelt's student body down to some 1500 students and its building newly housing several small schools, Mayor Bloomberg visited Roosevelt to announce before the news media that six schools, including Roosevelt, that had been made "impact" schools subsequently experienced sharp falls in crime. Others, too, found things calmer in the Roosevelt building, where, during that one year, felony assaults dropped from five to one, misdemeanor assaults from thirteen to six, and sexual assaults from three to zero. Meanwhile, the movement toward small schools, apparently performing better, gained favor by mayor Bloomberg's administration. Widely troubled, New York City's large high schools sustained a general policy of shutdown. On June 30, 2006, Roosevelt's final class graduated at the lowest rate among New York City's large high schools, 3%. Thereupon, the Theodore Roosevelt High School closed.
- "The Roosevelt High School: Only a little over a year old and overcrowded", School (New York, NY), 1920 Jan 22;31(21):197,202, p 197.
- Norval White & Elliot Willensky w/ Fran Leadon, AIA Guide to New York City, 5th edn (New York: Oxford University Press, 2010), entry "W1", p 846.
- Elsie B Goldsmith, "Schedule of schools: 1: Commercial education", pp 2–21, Directory of Opportunities for Vocational Training in New York City (New York: Vocational Service for Juniors, 1922), p 16.
- Lisa Rogak, A Boy Named Shel: The Life and Times of Shel Silverstein (New York: Thomas Dunne Books, 2007), p 9: "When World War II broke out in 1939, the curriculum at public schools across the country was retooled toward the war. Teaching basic military skills was the rule when Shel entered Theodore Roosevelt High School in September 1944. The high school was one of the largest in the nation, covering two city blocks, and was one of the best equipped as well. Its capacity was just over four thousand students and contained ninety classrooms and a variety of sewing rooms, music rooms, auto shops, three woodworking shops, science laboratories, gymnasiums, swimming pools, auditoriums, and a cafeteria that could seat one thousand".
- Susan Dunn, 1940: FDR, Willkie, Lindbergh, Hitler—the Election Amid the Storm (New Haven CT: Yale University Press, 2013), pp 1 & 202–203.
- Clarence Taylor, Reds at the Blackboard: Communism, Civil Rights, and the New York City Teachers Union (New York: Columbia University Press, 2011), p 158.
- Paula S Fass, Children of a New World: Society, Culture, and Globalization (New York & London: New York University Press, 2006), p 76.
- Lloyd Ultan & Barbara Unger, Bronx Accent: A Literary and Pictorial History of the Borough (Piscataway NJ: Rutgers University Press, 2000), pp 107–108, including quote from p 108: "Child, when I showed up that day—at Theodore Roosevelt High School, a white high school—they just about died when they saw me. A colored woman! But my name was on the list to teach there, and it was too late for them to send me someplace else. The plan had worked! Once I was in, they couldn't figure out how to get rid of me. So I became the first colored teacher in the New York City system to teach domestic science on the high school level. I spent the rest of my career teaching at excellent high schools! Between 1930 and 1960, when I retired, I taught at Theodore Roosevelt High School, which is on Fordham Road in the Bronx, then at Girls' High School in Brooklyn, and finally at Evander Childs High School, which is on Gun Hill Road in the Bronx".
- Harold Thau w/ Arthur Tobier, Bronx to Broadway: A Life in Show Business (New York: Applause Theater & Cinema Books, 2002), pp 32–33: "It wasn't until my father's business went into financial hemorrhage and all the help had to be let go that I got a close look at the downside of free enterprise. ... Every night for a year, with the meager receipts of the evening in a brown paper bag, I closed the door on a failing business and rode a cab up to the Bronx, asking myself: What could I do to help? How could I make a difference? I really didn't have the answers. No one seemed to have them. ... For a long time, a shroud of gloom lay over my soul. Theodore Roosevelt High School didn't help me much in this regard. It wasn't a progressive academic institution; it never was. The governing idea there was, 'Get these boys and girls out into the world and into jobs that'll permit them to survive'. But I always knew I could survive: it was more than a job that I wanted. Besides, there was never a question in my mind that I wouldn't be going to college. I always felt, whatever else was going on, my parents would find a way for me to go. That was simply my frame of reference. Few of my friends thought otherwise. In the East Bronx, Jews as group had an almost religious fervor about educating their children". Google Books search with the term born leaves elusive Thau's birth year, yet p 28 shows a photograph and caption, viewable not at Google Books but via Amazon.com's Look Inside, indicating that he was barmitzvahed in 1947. This suggests his age 14—presumably starting high school—in 1948.
- Jimmie Walker w/ Sal Manna, Dyn-O-Mite!: Good Times, Bad Times, Our Times—A Memoir (Philadelphia: Da Capo Press, 2012), p 22.
- Allen Jones w/ Mark Naison, ch 17 "Shifting loyalties", pp 83–87, The Rat that Got Away: A Bronx Memoir (New York: Fordham University Press, 2009): pp 83–85 discuss local youth subculture around 1967, while pp 86–87 illustrate it in events involving T Roosevelt HS.
- Eric C Schneider, Vampires, Dragons, and Egyptian Kings: Youth Gangs in Postwar New York (Princeton & Oxfordshire: Princeton University Press, 1999), p 184.
- Eloise Dunlap & Bruce D Johnson, "The setting for the crack era: Macro forces, micro consequences (1960–1992)", pp 45–59, in Marilyn D McShane & Franklin P Williams III , eds, Drug Use and Drug Policy (New York & London: Garland Publishing, 1997), pp 53–54.
- Amid economic stagnation—floundering industry, rising unemployment, stalling pay raises—prices of commodities and products were rising, inflation.
- US President Gerald Ford's administration denied New York City a bailout, whereupon the city's government faced shutdown until an insurance company made an emergency loan.
- Businesses typical of wholesome communities closed or moved, property value fell, and apartment buildings were burned and abandoned—their reputable landlords collected insurance money—or were sold to thrifty or, it seemed, miserly landlords.
- Composed mainly of American whites, including Jews, the gentrified classes fled.
- David Gonzalez, "Faces in the rubble", New York Times, 21 Aug 2009.
- Rodney P Carlisle, Handbook to Life in America, Volume IX: Contemporary America, 1970 to the Present (New York: Facts On File, 2009), pp 68–70.
- John N Gardner & Betsy O Barefoot, ch 10 "Lehman College of the City University of New York", pp 219–42, in Betsy O Barefoot et al, eds, Achieving and Sustaining Institutional Excellence for the First Year of College (San Francisco: Jossey–Bass, 2005), p 219.
- Eloise Dunlap & Bruce D Johnson, "The setting for the crack era: Macro forces, micro consequences (1960–1992)", pp 45–59, in Marilyn D McShane & Franklin P Williams III , eds, Drug Use and Drug Policy (New York & London: Garland Publishing, 1997), pp 49–50.
- Christina Sterbenz, "New York City used to be a terrifying place", Business Insider, 12 Jul 2013.
- Mark Coultan, "Weak schools caned where winning counts", Sydney Morning Herald, 15 Nov 2006: "And they don't just name aircraft carriers after their presidents. There's the Franklin Delano Roosevelt High School, and the Eleanor Roosevelt High School. However, the Theodore Roosevelt High School closed this year. But there's a story to that. Theodore Roosevelt High, in the south Bronx, opened in 1919 and as the area descended into drug-fuelled despair, so did the school. An energetic principal, Thelma Baxter, revived the school in the 1990s but after she was promoted the school went downhill again. Schools are reflective of society, and America loves winners. Losers? Nobody wants to know. In Australia, struggling schools get extra help; in America, it's the best schools that get the money. The worst are told to improve, or close. The principals and teachers find new jobs, and the children are found new schools. Often three new schools occupy the same building".
- "46th Precinct", Official New York City Police Department Web Site, accessed 10 Mar 2014: the 46th Precinct polices the Bronx sections Mount Hope, Morris Heights, University Heights, and Fordham Heights.
- John T McQuiston, "Four slain in violent Bronx area", New York Times, 29 Sept 1987: "Four residents were slain in separate incidents in one South Bronx precinct during a 15-hour period that ended early yesterday afternoon, the police said. The slayings occurred in the 46th Precinct, north of the Cross Bronx Expressway in Morris Heights, where it is not unheard of to have four homicides in a day, according to Sgt. Benjamin Dowling, a precinct spokesman. There was an average of 4.3 murders a day last year in all of New York City, which is divided into 75 precincts. 'We're very heavy into homicides in this precinct,' said Sergeant Dowling".
- Graham Rayman, The NYPD Tapes: A Shocking Story of Cops, Cover-ups, and Courage (New York: Palgrave Macmillan, 2013), pp 62–64.
- Clifford Krauss, "Police officer convicted of extorting payoffs", New York Times, 21 Apr 1995.
- Craig Wolff, "Tales of police corruption not surprising, 46th Precinct residents say", New York City, 10 Oct 1993, including quote: "The 46th Precinct is in the Fordham section of the Bronx. It is a crime-ridden precinct where, the Mollen Commission was told, some of the department's worst officers were commonly 'dumped.' And it is where 'the Mechanic' worked, a convicted officer who earned the nickname for the tune-ups,' or beatings, he performed on drug suspects and innocent bystanders alike. The Police Department says there is no policy of using any precinct, including the 46th, as a place of exile for troublesome officers".
- Having in 1986 shot six police officers, Larry Davis, an otherwise notorious killer who claimed self-defense from allegedly corrupt NYPD officers seeking to kill him for his knowledge of their guilt and his own having violated drug agreements entered with them, became a local hero and was acquitted by a jury in 1988. That and the 1994 death of Anthony Baez, who resisted arrest for disorderly conduct over a tossed football, through a chokehold placed by a Police Benevolent Association representative to the 46th Precinct signified the tension between residents and police in the Bronx. Leonard Levitt, NYPD Confidential: Power and Corruption in the Country's Greatest Police Force (New York: Thomas Dunne Books, 2009), pp 155–56.
- Jane Perlez, "City's schools seek solutions on dropouts", New York Times, 28 Nov 1986.
- Editor, "Cloning Thelma Baxter", New York Times, 27 Jan 1996.
- "Thelma Baxter", Zoominfo website, accessed 11 Mar 2014: "Dr Thelma Baxter is a nationally recognized educational consultant on school reform and literacy. She is the retired Harlem school superintendent and principal of Theodore Roosevelt High School in the Bronx, NY. When this failing school achieved three years of improved test scores, graduation rates and attendance, the New York Times acknowledged her with a 1996 editorial entitled, 'Cloning Thelma Baxter'. Dr Baxter has taught at the collegiate level preparing other education administrators".
- Catherine Shu, "A South Bronx high school's long goodbye: Phasing out an 80-year-old institution", Columbia Journalism News: Youth Matters, Columbia University Graduate School of Journalism, 2005.
- Kenneth Lovett, "Grad Tidings", New York Post, 26 Apr 2007.
- In February 2015, with completion expected for 2017, reconstruction began on the exterior of the building, affected by crumbling cement and falling bricks.
- Clara Hemphill, "Theodore Roosevelt Educational Campus", Insideschools, Mar 2012:
- "Theodore Roosevelt High School, Bronx, NY", NNDB, Soylent Communications, 2013, Website accessed 3 Jul 2014.
- Paula S Fass, "Creating new identifies: Youth and ethnicity in New York City high schools in the 1930s and 1940s", pp 95–117, in Joe Austin & Michael N Willard, eds, Generations of Youth: Youth Cultures and History in Twentieth-century America (New York & London: New York University Press, 1998), p 95.
- Homer L Patterson, ed, Patterson's American Education, Volume 14: College and School Directory (Chicago: American Educational Company, 1922), p 334.
- New York Superintendent of Schools, Twenty-third & Twenty-fourth Annual Reports of the Superintendent of Schools, 1920–1922: High Schools (New York: Board of Education, 1923), p 22: "It appears that The Bronx should have another high school to carry a general and a commercial course like the Evander Childs High School, to relieve both the Morris and Evander Childs High Schools. The Theodore Roosevelt High School has a register of 1,461 boys and girls in the commercial course. The building in P.S. 31 carries a double session. The school has an annex in P.S. 47".
- Bronx Board of Trade, The Bronx: New York City's Fastest Growing Borough (Bronx NY: Bronx Board of Trade, 1922), p 3.
- David Hartman & Barry Lewis, "History: Birth of a borough", A Walk Through The Bronx, Thirteen/WNET website, Educational Broadcasting Corporation, 2005, accessed 15 Mar 2014: "In 1923, Yankee Stadium was opened at 161st Street and River Avenue as the home of the New York Yankees, who became known at the 'Bronx Bombers' because of the large number of home runs hit in the following decades by such players as Babe Ruth, Lou Gehrig, Joe DiMaggio, Mickey Mantle, Roger Maris, and Reggie Jackson".
- Bill Twomey & Thomas X Casey, Images of America: Northwest Bronx (Charleston SC: Arcadia Publishing, 2011), Fordham University buildings shown on pp 9–13 & Bronx trollies shown on pp 14–17.
- Constance Rosenblum, Boulevard of Dreams: Heady Times, Heartbreak, and Hope along the Grand Concourse in the Bronx (New York & London: New York University Press, 2009), pp 46–47.
- David Hartman & Barry Lewis, "History: Birth of a borough", A Walk Through The Bronx, Thirteen/WNET website, Educational Broadcasting Corporation, 2005, accessed 15 Mar 2014: "In 1904, the first subway connecting the Bronx to Manhattan was built under 149th Street, providing cheap rapid transit that with the 3rd Avenue elevated line persuaded hundreds of thousands during the first third of the twentieth century to leave tenements in Manhattan for spacious new apartments in the Bronx. Yugoslavians, Armenians, and Italians were among those who made the move, but the largest group was Jews from central and eastern Europe. With the influx of population in the first third of the century the economy of the Bronx grew rapidly. The 3rd Avenue elevated line was gradually extended northward and in the process trolley lines were connected to it, forming a rapid transit line that provided access from lower Manhattan to expanses of undeveloped land. Many apartment buildings and commercial buildings were soon erected along the corridor of the elevated line, which reached its northern terminus at Gun Hill Road in 1920".
- Lloyd Ultan & Barbara Unger, Bronx Accent: A Literary and Pictorial History of the Borough (Piscataway NJ: Rutgers University Press, 2000), p 106.
- Evelyn Gonzalez, The Bronx (New York & Chichester: Columbia University Press, 2004), pp 94–96.
- Martin Dunford & Jack Holland, The Rough Guide to New York City (London: Rough Guides, 2002), p 269.
- Paula S Fass, "Creating new identifies: Youth and ethnicity in New York City high schools in the 1930s and 1940s", pp 95–117, in Joe Austin & Michael N Willard, eds, Generations of Youth: Youth Cultures and History in Twentieth-century America (New York & London: New York University Press, 1998), pp 109–111.
- Steven G Kellman, Redemption: The Life of Henry Roth (New York: W. W. Norton & Company, 2005), p 188.
- Isabelle Stamler, Sarah's Ten Fingers (Bloomington IN: iUniverse, 2012), p 208.
- Constance Rosenblum, "Grand, wasn't it", New York Times, 20 Aug 2009.
- Richard Harmond & Peter Wallenstein, "Delany, Bessie and Sadie Delany", pp 224–225, in Henry L Gates Jr & Evelyn B Higginbotham, eds, African American Lives (New York: Oxford University Press, 2004).
- Paula S Fass, "Creating new identifies", pp 95–117, in J Austin & M N Willard, eds, Generations of Youth (New York & London: NYU Press, 1998), p 96.
- Paula S Fass, Children of a New World: Society, Culture, and Globalization (New York & London: New York University Press, 2006), pp 77–78.
- Paula S Fass, "Creating new identifies: Youth and ethnicity in New York City high schools in the 1930s and 1940s", pp 95–117, in Joe Austin & Michael N Willard, eds, Generations of Youth: Youth Cultures and History in Twentieth-century America (New York & London: New York University Press, 1998), pp 110–111 & 117.
- Obituary, "June Allyson", The Telegraph (UK), 12 Jul 2006.
- David M Jordan, FDR, Dewey, and the Election of 1944 (Bloomington IN: Indiana University Press, 2011), p 272.
- Harold Thau w/ Arthur Tobier, Bronx to Broadway: A Life in Show Business (New York: Applause Theater & Cinema Books, 2002), pp 5–7.
- Madeline B Stern & Leona Rostenberg, Old Books, Rare Friends: Two Literary Sleuths and Their Shared Passion (New York: Doubleday, 1997), pp 60 & 150.
- Joseph Wancho, "Rocky Colavito", Society for American Baseball Research website, accessed 3 Jul 2014: "Rocky attended Theodore Roosevelt High School, but dropped out after his sophomore year to play semipro baseball, hoping that would lead to a more direct route to his dream of playing major league baseball. 'It was a big mistake', Colavito recalled. 'I didn't want kids to say, "He dropped out of school and he made the big leagues".' Baseball, though, prohibited a player from signing a professional contract until his class graduated. However, Commissioner Happy Chandler made an exception for Colavito, who had appealed the ruling, and Rocky was allowed to sign a contract at age 17"
"In 1994, Cleveland sportswriter Terry Pluto wrote a best selling book entitled The Curse of Rocky Colavito. In it, Pluto details the trials and tribulations of the Cleveland franchise after Frank Lane traded Colavito to Detroit. Pluto, who was born in 1955, recalls that the first words he may have learned were 'Don't Knock the Rock'. He picked up the phrase from his father when he was quite young, as did most Tribe fans of that generation. Pluto describes the Cleveland fans' admiration for Colavito thus: 'He was everything a ballplayer should be: dark, handsome eyes, and a raw-boned build—and he hit home runs at a remarkable rate' ".
- Jeff Vandam, "The bigger Little Italy", New York Times, 5 Feb 2010.
- Alfred S Posamentier, Terri L Germain-Williams & Daniel Jaye, What Successful Math Teachers Do, Grades 6–12, 2nd edn (Thousand Oaks CA: Corwin Press, 2013), p xvi.
- Marianne Garvey, "Lillo Brancato of 'Bronx Tale' wants to show Chazz Palminteri he's changed since prison", New York Daily News, 7 Mar 2014, quotes the movie's lead actor, Lillo Brancato: "He wrote a beautiful story about his life and I was chosen by him and De Niro to play the lead in that beautiful story, which is an opportunity of a lifetime".
- David Leaf & Ken Sharp, KISS: Behind the Mask—Official Authorized Biography (New York: Hachette Book Group, 2003/2005), p 40.
- "Chazz Palminteri", § "Early life", Biography Channel website, accessed March 15, 2014: "Palminteri originally attended DeWitt Clinton High School, but transferred to Theodore Roosevelt High School because he did not like the all-boys environment at DeWitt Clinton. Despite being a poor student—'I would make girls do my homework,' he recalls—Palminteri graduated from Roosevelt High in 1973 and immediately set out to make it as an actor".
- Carmen I Mercado, "A lifelong quest for biliteracy: A personal and professional journey", pp 36–48, in María de la Luz Reyes, ed, Words Were All We Had: Becoming Biliterate Against the Odds (New York: Teachers College Press, 2011), p 37.
- See History of New York City (1978–present) for expanded discussion of urban decay in New York City from the 1970s to 1980s.
- Joe Williams, Cheating Our Kids: How Politics and Greed Ruin Education (New York: Palgrave MacMillan, 2005), p 166, including following quote: "If we've learned anything in the years since the federal government produced A Nation at Risk, a call to arms about the need to radically alter the way we deliver education in America, it's that things don't change in our school systems unless strong—and sometimes unpopular—leaders make them change. Even then, it is hard to name many school systems that have managed to change the culture of the system. Few have been able to free themselves from the notion that public school systems operate as somewhat collaborative efforts".
- In the late 1980s, eleven of the city's 32 elected school boards had been under separate investigations for corruption. Joe Williams, Cheating Our Kids (N Y: Palgrave MacMillan, 2005), p 170.
- Joe Williams, Cheating Our Kids: How Politics and Greed Ruin Education (New York: Palgrave MacMillan, 2005), pp 169–170.
- Daily Mail reporter, "Life on the rails: Fascinating photographs of the New York City subway as it was 30 years ago", Mail Online (Daily Mail, UK), 26 Nov 2013.
- "Precinct Maps: Precinct Finder", Official New York City Police Department Web Site, accessed 8 Mar 2014.
- Bob Kappstatter & John Marzulli, "Bloods, dread and fear shake city", New York Daily News, 11 Oct 1997.
- Neil A Lewis, "Metal detectors deemed success and will expand in schools", New York Times, 6 Sep 1989.
- "There were 120 murders reported so far in 2014 compared with 140 a year earlier, a 15 percent decline, the data indicated", "the city on track to set a new low after posting a total of 333 murders last year, the fewest homicides recorded in citywide crime statistics dating back to 1963", although "New York long struggled with high crime rates, most notably in the early 1990s when more than 2,200 people were murdered in some years" [Victoria Cavaliere, "Even as shootings rise, murder rate falls in New York City", Reuters, 10 Jun 2014]. New York City recorded 1,814 homicides in 1980, and recorded 2,241 in 1990 [Christina Sterbenz, "New York City used to be a terrifying place", Business Insider, 12 Jul 2013]. An historical chart depicts the trends vividly [Ritchie King, "Annual homicides in New York City", Quartz, 31 Dec 2013].
- Leighton C Whitaker, Understanding and Preventing Violence: The Psychology of Human Destructiveness (Boca Raton FL: CRC Press, 2000), p 35.
- Beth Fertig, Why cant U teach me 2 read?: Three Students and a Mayor Put Our Schools to the Test (New York: Farrar, Straus and Giroux, 2009), p 8.
- Joseph Berger, "Condoms in schools", New York Times, 22 Dec 1990.
- Maria Newman, "Students teaching teachers; immigrants reverse language-skill roles in Bronx school", New York Times, 16 Apr 1992.
- Randal C Archibold, "At Bronx school, 'ultra-seniors' ponder graduation", New York Times, 19 Jan 1998.
- NYC's Board of Education had seven members—five each appointed by one of the five borough presidents, and two appointed by the NYC mayor—who voted on broad policies and vendor contracts, hired the chancellor, and every five years approved a construction plan of several billion dollars. Each of the 32 school districts had an elected school board overseeing district policies and strongly influencing hiring of that district's superintendent. Yet, for example, Queens schools were overcrowded, whereas Staten Island's had room to spare, although "fairness" compelled the city's Board of Education to allocate construction money equally for each borough, thus balancing concerns of the borough presidents, not needs of the schoolchildren. Joe Williams, Cheating Our Kids (N Y: Palgrave MacMillan, 2005), p 170.
- Joe Williams, Cheating Our Kids: How Politics and Greed Ruin Education (New York: Palgrave MacMillan, 2005), p 168.
- "Crew's brigade to help failing schools", New York Daily News, 8 Sep 1999.
- New York School Boards, 1996;2:15: "Principal Thelma Baxter's explanation for the dramatic turnaround of Theodore Roosevelt High School in the Bronx, which was just removed from the state's list of failing schools, offers a valuable lesson. 'We are here with basically the same school', Baxter said. 'But we have put tougher standards in place'".
- Raphael Sugarman, "District chief has big hopes of repeating past successes", New York Daily News, September 21, 1999.
- Jeff Simmons, "Flunking schools make grade", New York Daily News, 23 Jan 1996.
- "Williams, MCLA announce teaching program", The Williams Record, 22 Sep 1998: "For the past several years Williams has also had a cooperative program with Mt Greylock Regional High School and Theodore Roosevelt High School in the Bronx. The program involves student and faculty exchanges between the two high schools and student teaching opportunities at Roosevelt for Williams students during Winter Study".
- Julian Garcia, "Roosevelt will appeal MLK ruling", New York Daily News, 15 Dec 1998.
- Frank Brown, Letter to the editor: "Petty or principled?", New York Times, 4 Apr 1999.
- Julian Garcia, "MLK keeps crown", New York Daily News, 29 Jan 1999.
- Randal C Archibold, "In school; to improve learning and attendance, schools are drumming up interest in after-school programs", New York Times, 24 Mar 1999.
- Raphael Sugarman, "Hip hop-inspired show a groove for students", New York Daily News, 8 Apr 1999.
- Thomas L Good, ed, 21st Century Education: A Reference Handbook, 2nd edn (Thousand Oaks CA: Sage Publications, 2008), p xix.
- Joe Williams, Cheating Our Kids: How Politics and Greed Ruin Education (New York: Palgrave MacMillan, 2005), p 169.
- Joe Williams, Cheating Our Kids (N Y: Palgrave MacMillan, 2005), p 170.
- Joe Williams, Cheating Our Kids (N Y: Palgrave MacMillan, 2005), pp 170–171.
- "District 5", Insideschools, website accessed 17 Mar 2014.
- Randal C Archibold, "Chancellor names new superintendents for ailing schools", New York Times, 13 Aug 1999.
- Howard Schwach, "School scope", The Wave, 17 Jul 1999.
- Celeste Katz, "Bx riot HS may join list", New York Daily News, 24 Jan 2004.
- Elissa Gootman, "Principals say bad planning contributed to violence", New York Times, 24 Jan 2004.
- Elisa Gootman, "4 high schools added to those that require extra security", New York Times, 16 Apr 2004.
- David M Herszenhorn, "Crime is down in 6 schools on city's most-troubled list", New York Times, 23 Jun 2005.
- Clara Hemphill, "Theodore Roosevelt Educational Campus", InsideSchools, Mar 2012.
- Theodore Roosevelt High School's website, TR-HS.org, is now inactive.