If you want to bury an unpleasant announcement … making it just before the Christmas School Recess would be an excellent time, and sure enough the Department announces the first round of closings.
Once again Tweed is looking for space for new public and charter schools … and looking to divest itself of troubled schools. An example of “addition by subtraction,” making the school system “better” by closing a school, it will take years before we know whether the replacement schools are successful or not.
The practice began with the closing of Andrew Jackson in Queens and Erasmus in Brooklyn twenty years ago and accelerated under the Chancellor’s High School District with the closing of Eastern District in Brooklyn, George Washington in Manhattan and Taft and Theodore Roosevelt in the Bronx. It became an avalanche when the Gates dollars arrived. The New Century High School Initiative (NCHSI), embedded in the Bronx High School Superintendency resulted in the closing of most of the large high schools in the Bronx.
Has the NCHSI created better, higher achieving schools?
A recent evaluation of the initiative is positive. However, only 44% of the graduates received a Regents diploma and only 38% were “college ready” using the CUNY College Readiness Metric. Are the higher graduation rates due to fewer ELL and Special Ed kids, or, widespread use of questionable “credit recovery” programs … ? Unfortunately we cannot trust Tweed data … they have “massaged,” “misinterpreted” and downright dissembled.
Wingate had an excellent staff and but was plagued by poor leadership, Park West had already redesigned and was moving forward: too bad … Tweed’s agenda is to close schools, not support schools.
Last year Tweed “closed” five high schools (three large schools, and two small high schools) plus a number of middle schools. Rumor had it that this year the “potential” list has elementary, middle and high schools on it, and sure enough, elementary and middle schools are on the initial list.
No consideration is given to restructuring schools, to supporting existing schools, involving parents and teachers in the process.
Why is Tweed afraid of the public?
Why can’t they schedule public hearing before decisions are made? Schools are anchors of communities … closing a school can destabilize a neighborhood. Elected officials, parents and communities are barred from the process … a handful of folk who don’t live in or know the community, who will soon be off to their next job are making decisions in secret. Yes, some schools should be closed, but stakeholders must be part of the decision-making process.
It is not a surprise that many legislators want to change the present Department of Education governance structure.