Monday, January 26, 2009

PS 150: The Real Game Behind Closing Schools

Everyone knows if you close a school and replace the teachers, nothing much will change. Except that the school with a newer crop of inexperienced teachers will be much more unruly. In 2006, PS 225 in Rockaway was reorganized and all teachers had to reapply for their jobs, with a small handful being retained. Now that school is being closed and we have been looking for the signs that they will attempt to claim success by somehow changing the school population, not an easy thing. NY State Senate leader Malcolm Smith runs a charter school about 2 miles away that is based in quonset huts. Maybe they'll figure out a way to move that school into PS 225. Who knows?

Parents and teachers know the key to showing the kind of results that can be used politically is to change the kids.

This story about another closing school just came in over the transom from a source:

PS 150 in Brownsville is one of the schools slated to close (phased out). When the first parent meeting was held the DOE could not (and would not) answer their questions about the transition. All they said was we don't know. Parents were upset, but did not do anything immediately. Monday, the school - parents and teachers - were told that the "new school" was going to be a charter school with all that it implies. It was a small group of parents, but they found out their children will not automatically move from 150 to the new school. NOW they are angry and are planning some type of demonstration. But I fear it is too late. The DOE has spoken. This is not happening in all the schools that are closing. But, I wonder how many are getting this treatment.

Here is one thing we know. The UFT will send someone in to tell the teachers it is a fait accompli and nothing can be done. And good luck as an ATR.


  1. When a school closes (and I have been through it) it is a major disruption for the children. Often they don’t understand why, but all they know is the building is the same but everything they were comfortable with has changed. New administration, new teachers, new support staff, new paint on the walls, new furniture.
    My school was a SURR school. We broke our backs to make it work. Stayed five days a week to tutor. Came in on Saturdays. Summer School. It was a 12 month job with 10-12 hour days.
    The state/city broke our school into two smaller schools. One that housed k-3 and the other housed 4-5. The principal in the 4-5 school was from the first graduating class of the leadership academy. The principal in the k-3 was a displaced admin from the district (8).
    At the time we were still districts so I and many others were given three choices:
    • apply for a job at one or both of the "new" schools,
    • get a pass from the superintendent to get the hell out of the district
    • sit around and eventually you will be placed
    Well the majority of us fled and ran for the hills. We lived in Queens, Long Island and Manhattan and this was our opportunity to get out. The union was there every step of the way to ensure the rules of this process were upheld and that we all found jobs. I remember the union rep saying “Teachers that go through this process wind up somewhere that is a much happier place then where they came from” I think within 12 months everyone that I had still spoken to (about 15 teachers) were infact happy.
    I went back to this school on graduation day three years later to see my cherubs from my second grade class graduate. It was weird walking into the very building I said I would retire from. I had 23 kids in my class when I left, 5 graduated. I don’t know what happen to the other 18. Had they moved away? Were they held over? The building looked the same but everything else was different.
    So what’s my point anyway with sharing this story:
    1. The union has gone through this process many times and has it under control and will help teachers find jobs
    2. As a parent, fight this process. It does not help a school. If a school shuts down and reopens…it loses all of its funding until it begins to show a poor academic record which generally takes three years
    3. If you are a teacher who is going through this, don’t beat yourself up, its politics and nothing else

  2. What happens to a dream deferred?

  3. cmazza, You must be on meds. I can not believe that the Union was there for you and everybody found jobs. My school was closed three years ago and half of the teachers were kicked out. From this goup 25% found jobs, the rest are still ATRS after 3 years. The Union come and went along with the REORGANIZATION. I would like to know where you found a job, so I can go with the other ATR teachers and apply there.
    How abou the new video interview scam that the UFT is promoting? WHO FOUND A JOB WITH THIS SYSTEM?

  4. Perhaps, at the time (4+ years ago) the practice of closing schools wasn't as widespread and the opportunity to find jobs may of been easier, but 100% of the teachers found jobs from my school. The union rep was not the brightest bulb in the box (I will admit that)and many of us had to figure out what our rights were...but in the end about 25% stayed right where they were and the rest went on to other schools. I went to Queens, some went to become mentors (that was the summer they started the mentor positions)some stayed in the Bronx, some went to LI. I don't know of a single person that went to ATRS.

    But folks....the point of my comment above is that these practices are bad for the CHILDREN. It was horrible to see that only a handful of my kids graduated on time. This can't be good.

    Schools that go through this process don't have previous scores, so in May when the ELS and Math scores are published in the newspapers they look OK year one, but by year three the writing is on the walls as scores eventually drop so low (probably to where they were before reorg) and level off. I watched this happen in horror. I still speak too many of the teachers and we shake our heads wondering when someone is going to get the point that smaller classes, more parental influence, more stability, more funds for quality afterschool programs, less test prep and teaching to the test will help our kids. Kids are held over more often than not by the scores of 1 test....1 test that they have been preparing for all year. I would bomb it too! The pressure to pass these tests to make the teachers look good, make the administration look good, make the city look good...GIVE ME A BREAK. The time spent on literacy and math (most of which is test prep) is absurd and the time spent giving children a wide range of educational opportunities is minimal.

    Please don't misunderstand me...if administration says "TEST PREP ALL DAY" then naturally teachers must follow their marching orders. I know firsthand that TWEED doesn't convey that message to the schools (at least The Department of Teaching and Learning) but somehow, somewhere the translation of what is expected at the school level becomes lost and confused and is communicated to admins to TEST PREP which then gets pushed down to the teachers.

    It is a vicious cycle and I think the joys of teaching have been sucked out. It was an art and now seems so robotic. I worry so much about the future of education and the future of our children with this enormous weight of "Gotta do well on the test" looming at every corner.


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