James Madison High School
BROOKLYN NY 11229 Map
James Madison High School
The alma mater of senators, a Supreme Court justice, Nobel Prize winners and Chris Rock, James Madison is a popular high school with a wide array of classes, sports and other activities. Although sometimes viewed as the weakest of Brooklyn's 3Ms -- the other two are Midwood and Murrow -- by most accounts it is a safe, successful school with high graduation rate.
Most seats go to students living in the surrounding residential Midwood neighborhood with thousands of students applying for two small programs open to children from elsewhere in Brooklyn: Information Technology and Law.
Although enrollment has shrunk from a high of 4,200 in 2006, Madison still ranks among the city's biggest schools. Boys outnumber girls by a substantial margin. It has a 9-period day with students coming and going at different times but no double session.
The school is broken into houses -- or small learning communities -- with a guidance counselor and core of teachers to address students' interests and abilities. Along with houses for the honor programs, Madison offers academies in biology and medicine, humanities and math. The school also has academies for students with low test scores, English language learners and students with disabilities. Children in the zoned program select their academy upon admission to Madison.
Madison offers about a dozen Advanced Placement classes and several foreign languages, including Russian and Chinese. It has a range of instrumental and vocal music and visual arts classes.
Students told us the school was not excessively difficult. "You just have to keep on task and stay focused," one 9th grade boy said. "There's not a lot of homework." Two junior girls, both in the law program, said the work can be difficult, but one added, "Teachers help you so you don't fail out of it."
The school fields about 30 interscholastic varsity and junior varsity teams for boys and girls. Students stage a number of performances, including SING, a musical competition, and can participate in a variety of clubs.
Joseph Gogliormella, a former Madison teacher who has served as principal since 2003, gets high marks from teachers on their Learning Environment Surveys. Among other innovations, Gogliormella has reportedly developed an extensive conflict resolution program with student peer counselors and specially trained teachers and staff.
Attendance is fairly high for a large high school, and the suspension rate fairly low. Students must pass through a metal detector, meaning, one girl said, they have to learn to get along without their cellphones. About a third of students in the Learning Environment Survey found discipline to be unfair. Two students told us they thought the school was too strict, citing a policy where students who are late to class are sent to a special room for that period.
Over the past five years Madison has been the subject of several stories in the city's tabloids involving alleged sexual improprieties by teachers. Most students responding to the survey, however, say they feel safe and respected at the school. Almost all the students we talked with outside the building said they were glad they had chosen to go to Madison.
Special ed: Madison has team teaching and self-contained classes. Students with IEPs are placed in the Instructional Support House.
College admissions: Madison's college office, staffed by a full-time counselor and secretary, holds a fall college fair that is required for all juniors and seniors. There is heavy demand for the office's services. "Patience is truly a virtue," reads a bold-face line from the college office in the senior handbook. "There are only 2 of us and approximately 600+ students in your class."
Admission: Zoned school. Two programs accept students from elsewhere in Brooklyn. Information Technology has about 34 openings for incoming 9th graders, and the Law Institute has about 100 places. Applicants to both must have middle school grades of at least 85 percent in major academic subjects and have gotten a 3 or 4 on their standardized tests in 7th grade. (Gail Robinson, December 2012. Based on web reports and interviews.)