Bread and Roses Integrated Arts High School
Bread and Roses Integrated Arts High School closed in June 2016, six years after the Department of Education first considered closing it. Founded in 1997 as an alternative to Harlem’s traditional schools, Bread and Roses High School underwent wrenching changes in philosophy and several changes of leadership in its last decade.
The Department of Education twice considered closing it for poor performance—once in 2010 and again in 2012—but it managed to stay open both times. In July 2012, a judge ordered the city not to go forward with its plan to remove half the staff and rename the school—a decision that came after many teachers had been told to find work elsewhere. In 2013, however, the city decided to begin phasing it out after its repeated struggles to maintain order and discipline. Attendance was poor and the graduation rate was low. Only 29 students remained in the school's last year.
Bread and Roses was founded by progressive educator Carol Foresta. The name came from the rallying cry of striking textile workers in Lawrence, MA, in 1911, who are reported to have said: “We want bread, but we want roses too.” Over the years, the school became more traditional, with Regents prep replacing the projects and oral exams it once had. However, the new focus did not meet with success: Only 36 percent of the students graduated in 2015.
The building at 6 Edgecomb Avenue is now occupied by several other schools. (Nathaniel Cain and Pamela Wheaton, news reports, July 2016)