What is a man profited if he shall gain the whole world,
and lose his own soul? Matthew 16.
There must have been joy in Mudville , excuse me, Tweed, as they sprinted to churn out the press releases praising the higher graduation rates in small high schools . Some at Tweed were rumored to swoon as the NY Times, although wary of the low numbers of Special Education and English Language Learners, also praised the results .
Not one noted that three/quarters of high school students are housed in large high schools. The Board began closing large high schools in the eighties beginning with Andrew Jackson and Erasmus … the Chancellor’s High School District accelerated the closings and Tweed has been stumbling over itself to close down schools. Over twenty large high schools and lately middle schools have been closed.
The pell-mell closing of large high schools and the “deflection” of students into other large schools causing overcrowding, and, guess what, low student achievement, is well documented.
In the fall the Department announced the preemptive closing of five high schools – three large schools: Tilden, South Shore and Lafayette. The Brits who evaluated the schools found them “proficient” in the School Quality Review process – to no avail.
In March the State Education Department declared nine newly identified Schools Under Registration Review – and sent Teams to the schools to conduct detailed reviews. One of the nine – Canarsie high School is a large (2700 students) school.
The Team spends three long days in the school – observes scores of classes, interviews everyone, reviews a range of school documents and shares observations. The Team includes Regional Superintendents from outside the city, their selected staff members, representatives from the CSA (Principal’s union), the UFT (Teacher’s union) and a parent representative. The Team produces a detailed Report that is eventually posted by the SED.
As other schools were closed students were “deflected” into Canarsie and neighborhood students were attracted to the new small schools.
In spite of the growing difficulties the Region ignored the school. The Local Instructional Superintendent was rarely in the building. The Regional coaches were virtually invisible. The Regional Superintendent “beat up” the Principal, and offered no concrete help.
In effect, the school was abandoned.
The Principal was “under the gun” and consumed with discipline issues, the other supervisors fought with each other, and, the teachers without any guidance or leadership did the best they could …
In the latest budget many small high schools – only one-tenth the size of Canarsie received twice as much of the Fair Student Funding dollars.
In June the Department identified the “fall guy,” the Principal, and gave him a U rating.
What is so distressing is that there are many large high schools (i.e., Hillcrest, New Dorp, Madison, etc.) that have restructured into small learning communities – fka houses, or academies, or mini schools. These restructured schools encompass the benefits of small schools (personalization) and large schools (more course offering and economies of scale).
Where are the press releases? the fanfare? Only silence …
The students and staffs of large high schools are invisible, after all they don’t embellish the legend, or, is the fairy tale?
Once again throwing away kids and teachers who don’t fit the myth of that great Klein-created school system.