Each fall the New York State Education Department reviews data from the thousands of schools across the far reaches of the State and identifies schools who are moving away from Adequate Yearly Progress – the No Child Left Behind measurement rubric.
The SED then enters into a “negotiation” with the Department of Education … the Department preemptively closes some schools, and others end up on the Schools Under Registration Review (SURR) list.
This year the Department announced the closing, actually the phasing out of 14 schools, and another seven: six middle schools and one transfer high school, ended up on the SURR list.
A State team, made up of a Regional Superintendent (fka, BOCES) and his/her staff members, a CSA rep, a UFT rep, a parent rep and SED and DOE reps make up the team, usually 10-12 folk. They spend three days in the school, observe teachers, interview supervisors, teachers, parents and kids, and review school data and student work. In the evenings they write the Report, and, on the fourth day read the Report to the school community. About two months later, after the SED “massages” the draft, the Report is released to all.
The Report is made up of “findings” and “recommendations,” and, in rare instances, can suggest that the school should be closed.
The only high school on the list this year is Bushwick Community High School, a transfer high school. Transfer High Schools only accept students who have been failing to accumulate credits and pass Regents exams in other schools. Bushwick Community will accept kids with zero credits.
They accept the most at risk students … kids who have been stumbling for years, kids well along the path to dropping out of school. Needless to say most of their kids do not graduate in their cohort year, four years after they entered high school, and, some may never graduate. In 2006 Bushwick had a 46% dropout rate … however … 54% of the kids did not drop out.
Bushwick works with kids on the edge of the abyss, rather than nurturing the school the Department threw them off the cliff. Not a surprise.
The P-schools, schools for pregnant girls, also an at risk population, also not surprisingly, did not have “good data.” The solution: close the schools!! What happened to the kids? The Department has no idea … in theory they would return to other schools, and, maybe, enroll in schools with LYFE programs. In reality, most probably dropped out …
Bushwick Community is a wonderful school … a creative, caring, dedicated staff that is proud of what they accomplish. The Department, that counts widgets rather than the lives of young people, failed to explain to the State the mission of Bushwick. Hopefully the State Team will realize that Bushwick is a special place … that should be cherished … and, hopefully, will not face the same fate as the P-schools.