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UPDATED: Schools As Collateral Damage:
The Price We Pay For A Decade Of Tweed’s Failed Policies

UPDATE:

As hard as it is to believe, it now seems that the initial reports we received from the field actually understated the complete lack of educational integrity in this development. We have now been told that not every PLA school was told it would close; rather, for purely political reasons, some schools will not be slated for closure. Incredibly, while a school such as Maxwell which received an ‘A’ on their School Progress Report was told it would close, there are reports of a school which received an ‘F’ being passed over. No wonder Tweed has not published a list of all the PLA schools it is closing.

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Much like the brief torrential rain which drenched New Yorkers on Thursday morning, Mayor Bloomberg’s Thursday afternoon State of the City Address received a deluge of media attention. Today, the print and electronic media feature talk of his jeremiad against the UFT, of his attempted resurrection of ‘market reforms’ such as merit pay which have been discredited even in ‘reform’ circles, as study after study has shown them ineffective, and of his claims that he will introduce a new evaluation system by fiat. Tellingly, nowhere will you read an account of what the Mayor’s proposed imposition of closure under the Turn-Around model would mean for the PLA schools, were he to be successful in implementing it.

Consider what is happening to just a few of the PLA schools. Note that we use here the performance data that, the DoE insists, informs their decisions on the future of schools.

Maxwell Career and Technical H.S. in East New York. Over the last two years, the principal and staff have taken a school which had a ‘D’ on its 2008-09 School Progress Report and was slated for closure by the NYC Department of Education and led it to grades of ‘B’ on its 2009-10 and ‘A’ on its 2010-11 School Progress Reports. The DoE’s now wants to remove that principal and half of the staff that produced that real turn-around, all without the slightest bit of help from Tweed.

Fordham Leadership Academy for Business and Technology.  For three years, the DoE left in place the principal of this school who was found by his own superintendent to have engaged in sexual harassment, and was the subject of continued sexual harassment complaints from female staff and parents. The school was finally given  a new principal and a chance to turn itself around this past September, but now the DoE wants to remove that principal and half of the staff.

Unity Center for Urban Technologies. DoE Deputy Chancellors consider this school to be a paragon of a school turn around. Unity received an ‘A’ on both the 2009-10 and 2010-11 School Progress Reports, but now the DoE wants to remove the principal and half of the staff it has touted so widely. Talk about the Tweed ‘kiss of death.’

Long Island City High School. For many years, LICHS had done a credible job of teaching a high needs student population before it ran afoul of federal and state benchmarks that demanded it produce the same graduation rate as Stuyvesant High School. Far from being given the additional funds, supports and resources which it had been promised to allow it to improve its instructional program, LICHS has been  radically destabilized by Tweed since it became a PLA school, as decisions made at the highest level of the NYC DoE have created turmoil and disrupted the educational program. The schools has had three principals over the last three years, and the imposition of closure under the Turn Around Model would require a fourth in September. The school’s administrative capacity had been so deteriorated by these frenetic changes, that the school was forced to introduce a third entirely new class schedule and program in November, in the third month of a five month term: half of the term had been lost to administrative mismanagement. Despite this sabotage by Tweed, LICHS still pulled a ‘C’ on its last School Progress Report, but now the NYC DoE says it wants to further destabilize this school by removing 50% of its staff.

Bushwick Community H.S. and Harlem Renaissance H.S. As transfer schools, both Bushwick and Harlem Renaissance teaches students who had dropped out of other high schools. They ended up as PLA schools not just because they were held to the same graduation standards as Stuyvesant H.S., but also because they were given as little as one or two years to have their students pass 5 Regents exams and acquire 40 credits. The Regents are now considering changes to the performance metrics for transfer schools so they can be more fairly assessed. With these extraordinarily long odds against them, Bushwick scored a ‘C’ and Harlem Renaissance scores a ‘B’ on their last School Progress Reports. But the NYC DoE wants to fire the principals and half of the staffs that accomplished this, against all odds.

Queens Vocational and Technical High School. Queens Voc is a school that has been placed on the PLA list only because there is a full year’s lag in the data the state uses for these decisions: by the time it was added, its graduation rate was already well above the cut-off line.  It had an ‘A’ on its 2009-10 School Progress Report and a ‘B’ on its 2010-11 School Progress Report. How could such a record deserve closure under Turn Around? And what will happen to the many high needs students at Queens Voc when the school leadership and 50% of the school staff that has served them so well are forced out?

The list can go on and on. Chelsea Career and Technical Education High School, Cobble Hill School of American Studies, Franklin D. Roosevelt High School, William E. Grady High School, the School for Global Studies… All good schools with strong leadership and a solid track record of educating large numbers of high needs students. Each school received a ‘B’ on their 2010-11 School Progress Report. And each is now scheduled to lose their principal and half of their staff.

Could there possibly be more damning evidence of how decisions are made by the Mayor and his lieutenants at Tweed, without the slightest concern for what happens in schools to students? Like the cavalier military officer who dismisses civilian deaths as ‘collateral damage,’ Bloomberg and Tweed see the harm that will come to schools and students as the necessary cost of their political blitzkrieg.

 

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7 Comments:

  • 1 rick mangone
    · Jan 13, 2012 at 4:35 pm

    Mayor Bloomberg has no one but himself for the failed education policies of his administration. Countless times throughout his terms of office the UFT has tried to offer constructive approaches to the myriad of issues facing educators. Parents have been given token consideration and the reform agenda of Bloomberg and his chancellors has proved to offer minimal if any true gain for students. Now facing the facts that his policies that have more than doubled the education budget have failed he turns to attack the teachers and their union. His comments yesterday are another chapter in the failed legacy of the education mayor who has failed to learn very little at such a great cost.

  • 2 nuff said
    · Jan 14, 2012 at 8:35 am

    Anyone want to take a bet on if the above statistics will ever be printed in the NY Post or Daily News——you probably could get 100-1 odds in Vegas

  • 3 Taliesin
    · Jan 14, 2012 at 1:15 pm

    Is it time yet to blow the whistle on toxic schools?

  • 4 Taliesin
    · Jan 14, 2012 at 1:42 pm

    ISN’T THIS VULTURE CAPITALISM: TO CLOSE SCHOOLS, HIRE BACK HALF OF THE EMPLOYEES, GIVE THE SCHOOL A NEW NAME AS A COMMERCIAL CHARTER AND TAKE PUBLIC FUNDING FOR A COMMERCIAL ENTERPRISE BAILOUT?
    http://www.nytimes.com/2012/01/14/nyregion/bloomberg-focuses-his-legacy-on-education-reform.html?hpw

  • 5 Gene J. Mann
    · Jan 14, 2012 at 7:19 pm

    Let’s face it: the Mayor defines success by failure. The more schools closed, the more teachers who leave the system, the more comprehensive his “reform.”
    Really lost in all of this: the economic starvation of the schools. Successive budget cuts and forced paybacks to networks and consultants have pulled money out of schools, driven up class sizes, and forced principals’ educational decisions often to be really financial decisions.

  • 6 billynortheast
    · Jan 15, 2012 at 1:24 pm

    don’t forget Alfred E. Smith HS in the Bronx….
    over 20% Special Ed
    over 20% ELL
    over 85% Title 1 — living under the povery level

    one of the the only vocational education schools left in the NYC. Closing this school is putting a nail in the coffin for many of these students who would otherwise have a chance to work their way out of poverty with a trade.

    years ago in this city — when the US was experiencing a Golden Age — the NYC HS student graduated with a choice of 3 diplomas:
    vocational, general or Regents.
    Vocational diplomas gave students who were not college bound the opportunity to learn a trade and make a living. Bring back this model!

  • 7 old hat
    · Jan 24, 2012 at 7:25 pm

    One of my schools, has had mouse infestation.
    Every day, the smell of death is in the halls, classrooms, dead bodies caught on glue traps –
    just matter of fact at this point. All of a sudden, the school gets repainted, in mid-year. Who cares about the fumes and disruption from painting. Was it to seal up the rodent holes?
    We will never know.