Name for Academy

For 24 Schools Getting New Start, 24 New Names

For nearly 50 years, the large school building on Avenue X in Gravesend, Brooklyn, has been known as John Dewey High School, after the man who has been called "the father of progressive education." The name is on the building and the sign out front. It is what you hear on the school's answering machine.

That era is coming to an end.

Next year the Dewey name will be attached to a location, not an institution, as the high school and 23 other public schools are renamed, as part of the city's Education Department strategy to qualify for nearly $60 million in federal grants to help the so-called struggling schools get fresh starts.

Instead of borrowing their names from distinguished historical figures like Dewey and William Cullen Bryant, many of the schools will incorporate words like "opportunity" and "academy" into their titles.

The name changes are a requirement of a city plan to replace about half of the teaching staff and bestow new titles on the 24 schools, some of which are among the oldest educational institutions in the city.

The closings, part of the Mayor Michael R. Bloomberg's plan to shutter schools officials have deemed failing, have already prompted outrage, and this week the teachers' and principals' unions tried to block the city's plan in court. Hiring is on hold, though city officials on Wednesday said they plan to start posting job descriptions online and soliciting resumes to replace staff members in time for the new school year.

On Thursday, incoming ninth graders who applied to the schools, when they still had their old names, will receive letters saying where they have been accepted and what the names of their schools are. On Wednesday, the city still had not told all principals of the final approved list of names, though Chancellor Dennis M. Walcott signed off on it. The new names will take effect on July 1.

And William Cullen Bryant High School in Astoria, Queens, will become the Academy of Humanities and Applied Science at the William Cullen Bryant Campus, a title that is far from the poetry that fell from the pen of the famous American writer.

The principal of Dewey, Kathleen Elvin, said the change of name has not been popular with staff members, students and alumni, for whom John Dewey is more than a namesake or a famous historical figure. The school, which opened in 1969, is built on Mr. Dewey's pedagogical philosophy, and was selective with a progressive bent and an emphasis on independent study.

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