Despite improvements in their 2010 – 2011 grades, Miami Edison and Miami Central high schools in Miami-Dade County remain in “intervene” status, putting them in jeopardy of being closed by the state.

In order to exit that status and remain open, the schools must show additional improvements. That’s the word from Nikolai P. Vitti, assistant superintendant of Miami-Dade County Public Schools’ Education Transformation Office.

“Both schools must receive a letter grade of C, which both schools did last year, and both must make adequate annual progress for one subgroup in math and one subgroup in reading. This has been our difficulty and challenge with the Legislature and with the Department of Education,” Vitti said.

The majority black schools which have a revered place in the African community, have a recent history of Fs. Central had two Ds when the state first imposed the Florida Comprehensive Assessment Test (FCAT) in 2001-2002.  In 2007-2008, both schools were put in the intervene status.

“After that point, the following year Edison received an F but, for two straight years now, has received a C,” Vitti said. “We are projecting that C again at Edison when the school grades are released in a couple of months.”

After Central was put on the watch list, the school brought its grade to D and it is now a C. But Central, Vitti said, is projected to drop back to a D.

Unless the schools can make enough progress to come off the intervene status, they will face four options: removing the principal and replacing the faculty; closing and reopening as a charter school; closing the school and relocating the students to another school; contracting with an outside organization to run them. The district then would no longer manage their day-to-day operations.

Vitti made his remarks as a member of a panel at an Aug. 31 “Community Discussion on Miami Edison and Miami Central Senior High Schools’ Intervention Status” held before a standing-room-only crowd at Miami Edison’s auditorium, 6161 NW Fifth Court in the Little Haiti neighborhood of Miami.

 “At some point we need to speak truthfully,” school superintendant Alberto M. Carvalho said. “For decades … we accepted the fact that 92 percent of kids in these schools were not reading at grade level or writing and computing at an acceptable grade level because somehow we liked the people that were running these schools. That has been addressed.”

The community now needs to become involved, Carvalho said. “If you need to drag your little darling into to school by his or her ear, do it. If they are here, we will do something with them, I guarantee you that.”

He added, “I said it before, and will re-commit publicly: I will not shut down these schools.”

State Rep. Cynthia A. Stafford agreed, saying that only if the community steps in will the situation turn around. “Come to the school, support what’s going on here. Identify a student you can mentor. We will not let Edison close,” she said.

The upward climb will be difficult. At the beginning of the FCAT, only four percent of Edison’s ninth- and 10th-grade students were proficient in reading, Vitti said. Since then, that number has risen to 15 percent.

Only nine percent of those students were proficient in math, “and we have taken that number to 41 percent,” said Vitti. 

At Central, the numbers are equally grim. In the beginning of the FCAT, eight percent of Central’s ninth- and tenth-grade students were proficient in reading; that number is now 16 percent. Twenty percent were proficient in math; that number is now 47 percent.

“So the conversation has to shift about whether or not these schools should be closed. The conversation should be about improvement,” said Vitti.

Liberty City resident Lisa Bradley said that she attended the meeting to get more information about Central’s possible closing and was “shocked” to hear the low reading and math percentages.

“I wasn’t expecting that. It’s depressing to think these kids are so unprepared for a world in which educated people can’t find a job,” Bradley said. “My grandchildren attend Central and I had no idea. I honestly don’t see how either school will remain open.”

Other panelists were state Sen. Oscar Braynon II, state Reps. Dwight M. Bullard and Erik Fresen and school board member Dorothy Bendross-Mindingall.

Cynthia Roby may be reached at

Photo: Alberto M. Carvalho