Wednesday, December 5, 2007

Imperial Death March Sounds for 6 NYC Schools

The NYC Department of Education announced that it will phase out 6 schools this year serving 3417 students. NY1 reports that up to 14 additional schools may be closed by the end of this year.

What's perplexing, though, is why these six schools were chosen - 3 of the 6 got Ds, not Fs. If you really believe your progress report system identifies "failing" schools, why would you close D schools before F schools? Note to Joel: legitimate regimes follow their own rules.

Some basic facts about the schools that are slated to close:
  • 3 are in Manhattan, 2 are in the Bronx, and 1 is in Brooklyn.

  • 3 are middle schools, 1 is a K-8, 1 is an elementary school, and 1 is a high school.

  • All schools serve a high proportion of free lunch eligible students (ranging from 66.3 to 86.4%).

  • Five of the six schools serve 60% or more Hispanic students.

  • Two of the six schools are more than 25% ELL.

  • Four of the six schools have very high concentrations of special education students (ranging from 17.1 to 26.1%).
See the two tables below for more details.


Anonymous said...

It doesn't sound like you've actually read their "rules" on closures. They make it pretty clear that any D or F school (or even a C school) that hasn't shown improvement over time can be closed.

Skoolboy said...

Gotta disagree with you there, Anon 1:18. Eduwonkette has read this pretty carefully. Here's what the DOE says:

"Schools that receive an overall grade of D or F will be subject to school improvement measures and target setting and, if no progress is made over time, possible leadership change (subject to contractual obligations), restructuring, or closure. The same is true for schools receiving a C for three years in a row. Decisions about the consequences a school will face will be based on:

Whether the school’s Progress Report grade is an F, D, or C (for several years running);
The school’s Quality Review score of Well Developed, Proficient, or Undeveloped; and,
Whether the school’s Progress Report grade or Quality Review score has improved or declined recently.

Over time, school organizations receiving an overall grade of F are likely to be closed."

Nowhere in this is there an inference that a school receiving a D on its very first progress report is at risk of immediate closure. First, the decision is supposed to be based on progress over time -- "for several years running," says the DOE. But these initial progress reports, for better or worse, are a baseline. They do not reflect a school's performance over time. Second, a poor grade is supposed to trigger "school improvement measures and target setting" -- in other words, opportunities to remedy the lack of progress. Closing schools immediately on the basis of the progress reports is not giving them a chance to improve. Why doesn't the DOE feel an obligation to try to help "failing schools" improve before shutting them down?

Maybe there are good reasons to shut down this particular set of schools, but they don't rest on the evaluation system that the DOE has developed and claimed will be used for making these kinds of decisions.

Gary Babad said...

What Bloomberg and Klein are doing to these schools - and the entire system - is what Bush and Cheney are doing to the country and the world - and the damage may be irreparable. This is what happens when dictators have no respect for the rules, even, as you point out, their own. The end of their terms - and mayoral control - can't come soon enough. Let's hope we can still pick up the pieces.

NYC Educator said...

The Daily News reports that these schools are not among the worst of the worst. But perhaps as long as they keep juggling schools around and sending kids from place to place, that dreaded "accountability," which in Mr. Bloomberg's New York applies only to union workers, will continue to stay the hell out of City Hall.

David said...

Today’s news of school closings is problematic. I wholeheartedly believe in school closure as a reform proposition and not dragging the process over years when kids are being continually shortchanged (see my Nov. 19 2001 Gotham Gazette column, "Flunking Schools"). But it seems that the grades will now be used to justify what the DOE must have had planned all along. So they become a separate justification when the data themselves should provide the trigger after community consultation. And -- following on Eduwonkette's stupendous analysis of the "rules" -- will they be able to close C and B schools that deserve closure (I guess if they are SURR or SINI but not otherwise)?

-David Bloomfield

Ed in the Apple said...

It will be interesting to see what schools "replace" the closing schools ... some cynics aver that the need to identify new space drives the closings, not the quality or lack thereof of the closing schools.

Anonymous said...

From personal knowledge at least two of those schools have been terrible places for children for the last five years, if not longer.

Anonymous said...

Ed in the Apple should also comment on the weak response of the UFT, which employs him, and it's refusal to take a stand on the closing of schools (ICE attempted to to this at the Delegate Assembly.)