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Bloomberg and Tweed: “Our Standards Mean Nothing”

Last Wednesday, the New York City Department of Education (DoE) began holding public meetings for the 33 Transformation and Restart Schools that Mayor Bloomberg announced he would close in his State of the City speech. At the start of each meeting, a Deputy Chancellor reads out a prepared script which purportedly makes the case for closure. For 19 of those 33 schools, nearly 3 in 5, there is a glaring omission in the Orwellian accounts of their “deficiencies”: these schools do not meet the DoE’s own well-established standards for closure.

When the Scho0l Progress Reports were introduced five years ago, the NYC DoE decreed that the decision on whether or not to close a school would be henceforth be made on the basis of the school’s grade. Only those schools which received a “failing grade” — ‘F,’ ‘D’ or three consecutive ‘C’s  — would be considered for closing. That scale cut a remarkably wide swath, as the Bloomberg-Klein DoE wanted an ample supply of schools to close: where else would consecutive ‘C’s constitute a failing grade? But whatever else you could say about this policy, it was a fixed and clear standard. Even when the DoE announced that it would grade elementary schools and middle schools on a curve, as too many were scoring ‘A’s and ‘B’s, it still held to this standard. (Since 85% of the grades for elementary and middle schools were derived from student scores on New York State’s standardized ELA and Math exams, school grades rocketed during the period of grade inflation on those exams.)

But now that is all history.

One school Bloomberg has slated for closure — Maxwell H.S. — received an ‘A’ on its last School Progress Report. Another 6 schools received ‘B’s. (The Brooklyn School for Global Studies is a 6-12 school, and receives discrete marks for its middle school grades and its high school grades; both received a ‘B.’) And 12 schools with ‘C’s had received an ‘A’ or a ‘B’ in at least one of its two previous years of Reports. A chart at the end of this post lists all 19 schools, together with the last three years of their grades on the School Progress Reports.

Imagine a teacher who failed 3/5 of his or her students, despite the fact that they had met the teacher’s criteria for passing the class. What would we say of such a teacher?

On the other end of the scale, a Transformation school that received an ‘F’ on its last School Progress Report — Boys and Girls High School — was exempted from this mass closure, out of fear of negative community reaction.

Bloomberg and the DoE thus stand condemned by the yawning chasm between their words and their deeds: it is obvious that their ostensible standards for closing schools mean nothing to them, but were simply a fig leaf for the pursuit of Bloomberg’s political agenda. That fig leaf is now gone.

With the complete exhaustion of ideas at Tweed, all that is left is the policy of the mass closure of schools. And it is carried out in an increasingly reckless and indiscriminate manner.

DBN

SCHOOL NAME

2010-11 PROGRESS REPORT GRADE

2009-10 PROGRESS REPORT GRADE

2008-09 PROGRESS REPORT GRADE

19K660 William H. Maxwell Career and Technical High School

A

B

D

05M285 Harlem Renaissance High School

B

C

D

15K136 Intermediate School 136

B

C

A

15K429 Brooklyn School for Global Studies (MS)

B

C

A

15K429 Brooklyn School for Global Studies (HS)

B

F

C

15K519 Cobble Hill School of American Studies

B

B

B

20K505 Franklin D. Roosevelt High School

B

B

B

21K620 William E. Grady High School

B

D

C

09X022 Junior High School 22 Jordan L. Mott

C

C

A

09X412 Bronx High School of Business

C

C

B

10X080 Junior High School 80 Mosholu Parkway

C

B

A

10X391 Middle School 391 Angelo Parti

C

B

A

11X142 Junior High School 142 John Philip Sousa

C

C

A

14K610 Automotive High School

C

C

B

19K166 Junior High School 166 George Gershwin

C

C

B

24Q485 Grover Cleveland High School

C

B

C

27Q480 John Adams High School

C

B

C

30Q445 William Cullen Bryant High School

C

C

B

30Q450 Long Island City High School

C

C

B

32K564 Bushwick Community High School

C

B

B

 

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3 Comments:

  • 1 Bronwyn Cross
    · Apr 2, 2012 at 4:44 pm

    I tried to use your contact fuction but it didn’t work. I wanted permission to use a photo from your website of people protesting against charter schools in some material we are producing. Is that ok?
    Bronwyn Cross
    New Zealand Post Primary Teachers’ Association (The union that covers secondary teachers)

  • 2 Leo Casey
    · Apr 2, 2012 at 4:45 pm

    Yes, you have permission.

  • 3 Christine Rowland
    · Apr 3, 2012 at 8:24 am

    I did not check the EIS for all 33, but the ones I looked at were also missing those incredibly irritating (and often misleading) ‘we can do better’ sections. The omission speaks volumes.