Wednesday, March 8, 2017

Leonie: The egregious failure of DOE's Renewal program - and the likely illegal proposal to close JHS 145

Surely, the students at this school and other Renewal schools deserve a better chance to excel, by providing them with smaller classes, sufficient bilingual and ESL teachers, and all the other services and programs that all children need and deserve, but especially students with such disadvantaged backgrounds – instead of the DOE continuing to spend millions on an army of overpaid consultants and bureaucrats. 
There are many reasons to challenge the closure of JHS 145 and other Renewal schools.  As early as December 2014, DOE promised to focus its class size reduction efforts according to the Contract for Excellence law on these schools, writing: “To better align with the Chancellor’s priorities, C4E’s class size reduction plan will now focus on the 94 schools in the School Renewal program.”  

DOE repeated that promise in the 2015-16 Contract for Excellence plan and again in the C4E plan for this school year, while closing several of these schools without reducing class size.  Indeed, there are still classes as large as 30 at JHS 145 as well as at about 40% of the Renewal elementary and middle schools, and nearly all the Renewal high schools.  
Of the six schools slated for closure, only JHS 145 in District 9 is a zoned school.  Because JHS 145 is a zoned school, it is not clear to me how the DOE can close it without a vote of Community Education Council in District 9, which has not occurred.
According to Marilyn Espada, President of CEC 9, the JHS 145 student population is composed of 53 percent English Language Learners, 20 percent students with special needs, and 53 students in temporary housing. Yet there was no ESL Teacher last year, and only one ESL Teacher for 140 ELL students this year. There are no bilingual teachers for the 7th and 8th graders.

In addition, many of the extra services and resources the school was promised as part of the Renewal program never happened. The health clinic built for the school has yet to open, and instead of gaining more space,  17 or 18 classrooms were given over to a  Success Academy charter school one year into the Renewal process,  scattering students across 3 floors of a building,  and causing the school to lose its computer room.  There is no science lab, no textbooks last year, and nearly 14 percent of teachers were teaching subjects last year in which they were not trained or certified.
Rather than provide the necessary resources and class sizes to this and other Renewal schools,  the DOE has spent millions on more bureaucracy and consultants, , some  with questionable records and backgrounds.  
A powerful post by Leonie Haimson - an indictment of de Blasio and Farina failures akin to the BloomKlein years. When you scratch below the surface, they are basically giving justification for the DeVos/Trump assault on public schools. I mean, what exactly are we trying to defend when we have seen these types of people in charge for decades?

The egregious failure of DOE's Renewal program - and the likely illegal proposal to close JHS 145

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