Fordham High School for the Arts

500 EAST FORDHAM ROAD
BRONX NY 10458 Map
Phone: (718) 733-4656
Website: Click here
Admissions: Audition
Wheelchair accessible
unzoned
specialized arts
selective
Principal: IRIS BLIGE
Neighborhood: Fordham
District: 10
Grade range: 09 thru 12

What's special:

Some students compose jazz with teachers from Carnegie Hall.

The downside:

Friction between principal and teachers.

The InsideStats

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Our review

Modeled on Talent Unlimited, a Manhattan high school for the performing arts, Fordham High School for the Arts strives to give students a foundation in dance, drama, vocal music, instrumental music, and studio art. It is one of six schools housed in Theodore Roosevelt Educational Campus.

Students seem happy: Most students say they feel safe and their teachers inspire them to learn, according to the Learning Environment Survey. Dance students performed a hip hop version of the Nutcracker. Drama students memorized monologues by playwright August Wilson for a competition. Instrumental students compose their own jazz numbers and perform them at Lehman College with teachers from Carnegie Hall and the Juilliard School. [See video at left.]

The school’s suspension rate, which was high a few years ago, has steadily declined and its attendance rate has increased in recent years. More girls than boys attend, but the ratio of 60% female and 40% male is less lopsided than many performing arts schools.

Most students enter 9th grade with reading scores that are well below grade level. The school does a good job ensuring that most graduate on time. However, few graduates are prepared for college-level work, according to the city’s Progress Report for the school.

The school has long had a high rate of teacher turnover and there has been considerable friction between the faculty and the administration. Nearly 60% of teachers responding to the Learning Environment Survey said they do not trust the principal, Iris Blige, and more than 40% said she is a poor manager. The United Federation of Teachers picketed the school in 2009, complaining that Blige consistently berated teachers and yelled at students. In 2011, the Department of Education fined her $7,500 for not following protocol in her teacher evaluations. News accounts said she had a “hit list” of staff she wanted to target and instructed assistant principals to give teachers unsatisfactory ratings without observing them, as required by the contract.

Blige declined Insideschools’ request to visit the school. The report was compiled from Department of Education data and news reports.

Special education: The school offers "self-contained" classes for students with special needs as well as SETSS or special education teacher support services.

Admissions: Students are admitted by audition. (Clara Hemphill, March 2012)

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