Bread and Roses Integrated Arts High School
JUNE 2013 UPDATE: Bread and Roses Integrated Arts High School is being phased out and replaced after years of poor performance. No new students were admitted in September 2013, and the phase-out will be completed in June 2016. The DOE has proposed to open and co-locate a new school in the building that would grow to serve grades 6-12.
JULY 2012 REVIEW: Founded in 1997 as an alternative to Harlem’s traditional schools, Bread and Roses High School has undergone wrenching changes in philosophy, rapid turnover of leadership and even confusion over whether it will stay open.
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.
The school has struggled for years to maintain order and discipline. Attendance is poor and the graduation rate is low. It has had three principals since 2009.
On the positive side, Rodney Lofton, named principal in March 2011, is an experienced educator with a degree from Columbia University. He was formerly superintendent of schools in Trenton, N J. Colleagues describe him as “soft-spoken, thoughtful and smart.”
The school was founded by progressive educator Carol Foresta. Its name comes 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 has become more traditional, with Regents prep replacing the projects and oral exams it once had. Students wear khaki pants and a burgundy polo shirt.
Admissions: The school offers open houses in November. Admission is according to the educational option formula designed to ensure a mix of students of different abilities. Most incoming students are low-performing, although the school offers an honors progrm. (Clara Hemphill, interviews, July 2012)