The Department of Ed has announced the closing of five high schools, two small schools in Manhattan and three large high schools in Brooklyn.
The NYSun reports that one of schools slated for closing, Tilden High School, has been designated as “proficient” by the Department as part of the School Quality Review process. So, on one hand the Brits who are visiting and evaluating schools find Tilden “proficient,” and the denizens at Tweed decide to empty out the building.
Tilden is clearly a struggling school.
The School Report Card reports that student suspension rates are far above the average for similar schools: 163% for 2004 and 261% for 2005. Average daily attendance to date is 64%.
On the other hand the Department sends students well below standard: 50.1% of the 2005 entering class were overage and only 15.2% of the entering class met ELA standards and 16.5% Math standards. 14% of the students are Special Education.
Most disturbing is the school received $2,739 less per pupil than similar schools.
I don’t know whether Tilden should be closed. The Principal, in her second year is popular among the staff and students.
Klein is quick to laud some of the new small high schools. He raves about Bronx Aerospace – a small Empowerment High School in the Bronx. The School Report Card reports that only 17.4% enter the school overaged, 27.2% enter having met ELA standards and 38.1% Math standards. In addition the small high schools that are part of the Gates funded New Century High School project receive $1,000 per student in additional funding each of their first four years and substantial professional and operation support from the “intermediaries,” the not-for-profits who are the recipients of the Gates funding.
This is not a plea to keep Tilden open – I don’t really know enough – I do know when you send extremely needy kids to a school, and underfund the school you have created a recipe for failure.
Will the hundreds of small high schools survive and prosper as the years go by? What will happen when the Gates dollars end? Will Empowerment Schools have the capacity to meet the needs of their student and staffs? Especially with almost no external supports?
When Klein’s intellectual beau, Sir Michael Barber, addressed prospective Empowerment Principals last spring he urged Klein to make changes as rapidly as possible, and to make them “irrevocable.”
I don’t see a galaxy of 400 small high schools, divided into networks and “managed,” under performance contracts, by a revolving array of “educational management organizations” as the kind of “irrevocable” change that will benefit public children.
What I do see is a growing coalition: parents, teachers, unions, community activists and elected officials who question the “fad of the moment,” who question “experimenting” with the educational future of their children.