Friday, January 8, 2010

School Closing Hearings Turning into Perfect Storm

We predicted back in the fall that a 3rd term for Bloomberg would turn out to be his disaster. Hubris will take the Tweedy gang down the road to oblivion.

It didn't take them long to do that thing. Closing 22 schools in one felt swoop and thinking that scheduling all the hearings right on top of each other would be a classic coup of disaster capitalism of the shock doctrine type. Instead it may be turning into a perfect storm of their own making.

The press has been racing around to cover all these events. The poor gals of Gotham are being run ragged. Maura has to schlep to Beach Channel ("you come to all of those meetings in the city from HERE? she asked) and to Jamaica last night. Yoav from the Post and Lindsey from NY 1 was at both events too. And poor Tweed PR Anne Forte too, who had to endure the slings and arrows as timekeeper at BCHS but was given a break last night by boss David Can't(or) who came along to try to manage the press. Even Dennis Walcott came by to watch the show at Jamaica.

And what a show it was. How interesting that local politicians who have been silent as the dOE closed so many schools are now coming out of the woodwork to condemn them. At both meetings I attended every Queens councilman supported keeping the schools open. Erich Ulrich, a Republican from Howard Beach and a Bloomberg admirer (he practically held up a cross to fend me off when I suggested he come to our demo at Bloomberg's house on Jan, 21) has surprisingly led the effort, getting every Queens councilperson to sign off on supporting the schools. Last night 3 of them told us they were Jamaica High grads.

Even one of my favorite whipping boys, Queens PEP member Dmytro Fedkowskyj, made a decent statement (too late for today's Wave column which goes after him again as a rubber stamp. I told him we will be looking for him to stand up for the Queens schools with his vote on Jan. 26. "Why can't you be more like Patrick Sullivan," I said? His answer is embargoed.

Now the best thing happening was the connection Jamaica chapter leader James Eterno and I made last night between BCHS student leader (see his video in the previous post) and Jamaica HS student leader Rachel Ali (I think) who met for the first time last night and within an hour formed a student union of closing schools and will attend every school closing hearing from now on to try to meet other student leaders. They will try to get many of them to come to the Jan, 21 rally, which Rachel promoted last night.

In the perfect storm brewing, this may turn out to be the biggest wave of all. Though one never knows how these student things turn out since the politicians are already trying to deflect it. Chris just called to say he is going to Ulrich's office for a meeting. How long before he and the others get a meeting with either Bloomberg or Klein or both? And will they accept anything less than keeping their schools open. By the way, both Chris and Rachel are 18 and seniors, so their stake in keeping the school open is coming from a perspective of students for whom the schools has worked.

Don't you just love it when the Tweedies use their "only 46% graduated" data? What about these 46% for which something worked? Sure, go ahead and take away the school that they feel nurtured them in the name of the nameless 54% who did not? When the alumni and current students get up to speak, watch people like John White and Kathleen Grimm, who would run screaming from a classroom, try to keep their eyes off their Blackberries while pretending to listen. It is all about children, not adults, right?

I thought of something last night about how these closings are an attack on the students, and not only the most struggling. They are an attack on that 46% who do succeed. Imagine those kids who are sophomores and have to spend the rest of their school careers in a dying and downsized school? They may be the biggest victims.

And then there is the fact that an alternative to closing a school is leadership change. Yea, like change the principal. One teacher on a video I put up from the Dec. PEP said that they have their third principal in 4 years and this guy is the first one who had real experience and knows what he's doing, so give him a chance.

Hey Norm-cannot believe that over 30 people got up to speak and NOT ONE made mention that the slimy ass principal was not in the room to go "down with his ship". Shows you how stupid and or chicken ass we all are. If someone had guts, they would have challenged him to step in the room to say something. What some of the teachers should have realized is that he was leaving them up the creek w/o a paddle. Knowing this, and it was evident, they should have suggested a change of leadership!! How dedicated can the man be if he is unwilling to step into the room to defend his staff?

In some schools, like Columbus, principals are standing up. But for those who won't and play the Tweedie game, here's what I'll put my money on. The students will be sent to overcrowded schools with long subway and bus rides, teachers will become ATRs and sent who knows where, but the school leadership will land on its feet, maybe even to take down another school? Or is that part of the plan all along?

And then there's the UFT, which last night tried to lay their "Tweed mismanagement line" on. I pointed out that this is not mismanagement but superb management of their intentions to end up having no responsibility for any public schools, because there will be none left.


NYC Educator said...

The best thing about the 46% graduation rate is that it's utterly inaccurate. Tweed's willingness to use it is remarkable.

James Eterno said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
James Eterno said...

Norm- Why are you using the bogus 46% number? It's not true.

Anonymous said...

What is the actual city-wide graduation rate?

NY_I said...

New York State's own school report card data does not support Bloomberg /Klein's bias against large schools and for small schools. Witness the comparisons I made, contrasting the two types of schools, at my latest post: Jamaica and some other large schools perform just as well as the small schools that the city favors. My latest blog post combines some highlights of Leonie Haimson et al's book NYC Schools Under Bloomberg / Klein and analysis of the schools using New York State's own data:

James Erick said...
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