Wednesday, December 5, 2007

Closing Schools, Shucking Responsibility

Updated Thurs Dec. 6 12am

When BloomKlein announce they are closing schools, there are shock waves, part of their "shock and awe" strategy in "reforming" the educational system. But when they close a school they are announcing their failure to fix it, while absolving themselves of responsibility. After all, they control the administrators and most of the teachers who are there. So what will change when they close a school? New admins, new teachers and mostly, new kids. Where will the ones denied entry into the new school go? To the next school to be destabilized?

The response of the UFT was tepid, at best. You see, they agree with the closing of schools. ICE tried to make resolutions calling for the UFT to take a stand on the closing of schools, but nada. You never see any sign of protest. All they say is they will protect the interests of teachers. Ha. ATRdom, here you come.

EBC/ENY HS for Public Safety and Law
EBC has had a rocky history and no one would ever accuse it of being a successful school. A few years back the school was placed on the SURR list, changed principals and worked its way off of the list. Last year it actually made AYP in English and math. The Quality Review showed some deficiencies but they were being addressed. The school received a D on the progress report. But just because the state said it was doing better didn't stop Tweed from closing it.

The school serves about 530 inner city minority youth with an improving graduation rate. They recently restarted the school newspaper and entered a Moot Court competition, for the first time in school history, where they were defeated by Madison High School in what the judges called a very close match. The students are excited about entering the Mock Trial Statewide competition and the Lincoln-Douglas Debates. The climate seemed to be changing as the school started to fulfill its mission, as suggested in the Quality Review.

A major factor in the decision to close the school may be that they are operating in leased space. The building is not maintained by the landlord. The roof is in bad shape. There was a major flood over the summer and one of the boilers is not working, leaving many classrooms so cold that the students called 311 to complain about the lack of heat. The lease expires next year.

To allow a school to exist in these conditions and then close it is part of the fabric of distortions of public education policy by Tweed/DOE/BloomKlein.

If you can't fix what's wrong without closing the school, then you have failed. Yet they get kudos for their failure. When will the press start telling the full story and call the DOE into full accountability for its actions?

Late breaking news:
Far Rockaway HS will close, thus putting pressure on the next target, Beach Channel HS.
I wrote a few column in The Wave when an attempt was made to reorganize Far Rock in 2005 which could have meant new leadership and did mean the replacement of most of the staff. It obviously was a failure if they are closing it now. Who was responsible if not the DOE? Why are they allowed to get away with blaming everyone and everything but themselves?
They are always talking about "no excuses" [read eduwonkette this week exploding that myth] yet they are the biggest excuse-makers there are. Again, SHAME ON THE PRESS IF THEY CONTINUE TO IGNORE THIS SHELL GAME GOING ON.

Francis Lewis HS, already severely overcrowded, recently got 50 over the counter registrations from Jamaica HS, itself a target for closing.


  1. This is incredible! Keep us posted. Thanks ednotes.

  2. I teach at FLHS. Although we are a good school, there are tons of problems. The school is severely overcrowded and kids are being left behind every day. Fifty over the counter registrations is going to hurt the school. Keep going this way and our school will be the next one closed.

  3. Jamaica is not a target for closing Norm. At least not now, we got a C.

    James Eterno

  4. Very interesting. I wonder if the DOE secretly takes a look at the number of tenured teachers and the number of years they have in the system to close down certain schools. It would be a great way to throw tenured teachers in the ATR pool and then offer them that voluntary ATR package. Another conspiracy theory is the UFT will announce a new contract with the city when the city announces our health cost containment from the 2007 contract.


    This is a very insightful article that reflects once again the abject cynicism and total bankruptcy of real ideas and solutions of that intellectual failure of the decade, Joel "De" Klein, Esq. The first Chancellor in history to be appointed by Special Waiver as he had no proper Education credentials for this important post.

    He has certainly lived up to his name, as shown above, when it comes to his morbid, if not murderous effect on the New York City Public Schools System, comprised of more than one million mostly at risk children.

    Like our poor excuse for a real Commander in Chief, who has dragged this great nation into the biggest and most tragic military debacle since Viet Nam, if not in our 200 year history, De Klein has managed to fool nobody with his cynical attempts to "shock and awe" the public, with his continuous shutting down of struggling schools- rather than getting to the core reasons of why those schools are struggling in the first place.

    As Mr. Scott so insightfully points out in his article, these school closings are meant to impress the public that he, Mr. DeKlein is a serious, take no prisoners type Commander in Chief who means business with his "big decisions" and perpetual changes to the structure of the NYC Dept. of Education.

    His cynical (yes, I use that term for the third time) tactics in shutting down struggling inner city schools remind me of that famous battle during the VIet Nam war known as "Hamburger Hill" where soldiers had been ordered to take an impossible position or we might recall the famous and very sad expression that came to define that whole military era, that said:

    "We had to destroy the village in order to "save it" as in the My Lai massacre of over 300 innocent Vietnamese women, old men and children.

    The psychopathic Army Officer, Captain Calley, who ordered and led that appalling atrocity that later sickened the entire civilized world, never spent a day behind bars in a real prison.

    Last time I checked he was the proud proprietor of a small Jewelry store in Georgia or was it Texas.

    As Mr. Scott corectly points out each destroyed school leaves even more inner city children displaced and destabilized, just like the over one million wandering refugees our "mission accomplished" Commander in Chief has created in Iraq. Let's not start thinking here of the one miilion Iraqui dead- so far.

    Mr. Joel "De" Klein, Esq. in fact should be considered a true soul mate of Dr. Jack Kevorkian, famed for arranging "assisted suicides" of people who were desperately ill.

    I can just picture in my mind's eye, Dr. De Klein hooking up the needles and tubes to the side of what he, in his infinite wisdom, has decided and deemed a struggling or failing school.

    "Hurry up boys- kill that failing school off fast and be done with it!"

    Welcome to the Brave New World of Joel "Kevorkian" M.D. (Mass Destroyer of the struggling neighborhood school).

    You just go Joel. you're the Man.

    You have just invented EDUCATIONAL EUTHANASIA. Maybe if you hurry, Merck Pharmaceutical and the Drug Lobby can help you obtain a US Patent before anyone steals your great discovery.

    David Pakter, M.A., M.F.A.

    Teacher of the Year

    Rubber Room Regiment, Harlem 125 St

  6. Did you see this morning's article in the Daily News of Klein closing six schools? Two item of interst, four of them have those new "boutique academy names". Were these schools headed by principals from the new Leadership Academy? Doesn't he see that all six schools, except for the one on the West side 100th St. are in predominantly poor neighborhoods? Changing the "structure" the names, the teachers etc. is not going to change the degrading poverty that militates education in these neighborhoods. Total social reform is needed. These schools have been embedded in poverty virtually since their founding.But I guess that's the educators fault.

  7. Steve,

    When I voted against Fair Student Funding at the Panel for Educational Policy meeting in May, I cited these D4 statistics for both the failing schools and the overall numbers: 2/3 not getting new funds. The story in D5 (Central Harlem) is similar. Klein told me specifically that the schools on the failing list were overfunded. He said it's not just about money. I lost the vote 10-1, maybe 9-1 .

    I asked for a briefing on FSF, especially D4. I went to Tweed and asked three senior DOE officials what precisely would these "overfunded" D4 schools get, what was the agenda to improve them? The answer was "accountability" as if testing and target setting is some meaningful plan for turning around a school. When I pressed them, they said some CTT classes as well.

    Eugenia Simmons-Taylor the D4 Presidents Council pres, came to another PEP meeting and complained about these numbers. Klein had no response.


    Date: Wed, 5 Dec 2007 20:08:20 -0500
    Subject: Re: [nyceducationnews] two more schools closing

    With regard to three of the first six schools announced to be closing, three of those schools were located in District 4. Two of the schools (PS 101 and Academy of Environmental Science MS) received F ratings on their Progress Reports, and one (Tito Puente Education Complex) received a D. A little research shows that 28.1% of the District 4 schools received D's or F's, compared to about 13% Citywide. Curiously, of the six high schools in D4, there were 3 A's, 2 B's, and a C. For the middle schools, it was reversed: 1 B, 1 C, 2 D's, and 3 F's. For the elementaries and K-8's, it was 4 A's, 6 B's, 5 C's, 2 D's, and 2 F's.

    Furthermore, it turns out that of the nine D4 schools on the State's list of failing schools, seven of them would receive reduced funding under FSF to the combined tune of $1,144,136, while just one school would be the happy beneficiary of a transformational increase of $21,549 (a whopping 0.8% budget increase). So it doesn't appear that FSF is going to do anything other than perhaps accelerate these schools' downward slide.

    Still, that's not yet the whole story for District 4. A look at the whole District under FSF shows 21 of the 32 schools (65.6%) receiving reduced funding under FSF (held harmless for another year), with the other 11 getting budget increases. Beyond the 21 - 11 differential are the net decrease and increase numbers: the 21 schools will lose funding to the combined tune of $3,612,521 (average of - $172,025 each), while the lucky 11 will receive additional funding of $1,399,077 (average of + $127,189 each). The giant sucking sound in East Harlem is that $2.2 million leaving the District 4 schools under the seemingly Orwellian-titled Fair Student Funding plan.

    It's interesting to note that all three of the targeted D4 schools are located in the lower (southern) half of the District, well below 116th Street. If one were given to conspiracy theories, one might just think that given all these D's and F's and FSF budget reductions, the DOE was perhaps clearing the way for the lower portion of District 4 to become an unofficial extension of the northern end of District 2. But of course, we're not given to conspiracy theories now, are we?

    Steve Koss

  8. Since the sixties, the US education system has been going down stream. When we look at the TIMSS current report it shows that when compared with other countries, the US is scoring very very low on their standardized test, right now the results are so alarming that the US to date will not continue in the next round. Many people are saying teachers are failing our children (they are already working with little resources) and some may argue that parents need to be more concerned with their child's academic progress (true, but families who have to travel far to work and perhaps hold more than 2 jobs may not have such opportunity to participate in their academic success), note am not excusing parents who can truly do better, but we need to know that at the end of the day it comes down to an economic problem. Take a look at the most current Fiscal budget report and the allocation towards educations .

    We already know that based on standardized results we are behind in specially Math and Science, but are we truly behind or we need to eliminate standardize testing.

    You might be wondering well how would the education system measure productivity, do policy makers (who are they and why don't you know?) really want to know the answer –here goes keep up with current trends to better reach our current population, allow parents to send their children to any school they desire, and what this will do is force school leaders to become more competitive. You might say this is not a business, not healthcare or higher education, so who is our policy makers?

    Anyway, I know the community has concerns about some of the D and F performing schools, but the question is did the school leader try the hortatory policy approach? If they did and it did not work, ok, but to present mandates based on scores is not good enough, let's hope this is not the case

    Policy makers including school leaders need to realize that one side does not fit all. They need to better understand polices and how to effectively match policy to problem and in so doing change the environment of the school.

    Bromption, Jamaica WI


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