Report from the island: UFT leaders did their job. Some people think PS 14 SI was chosen because of criticism of Tweed for leaving SI schools off closing lists for political reasons since SI politicians support Tweed and the SI PEP rep always votes with them. Maybe they are worried about future lawsuits on school closings charging them with racial discrimination. Who knows what lurks in the minds of Tweedies? Other than how to parlay their position so they can get a job with the ed deform movement when they leave Tweed.
Here is a statement from Loretta Prisco from the Independent Community of Educators (ICE).
The Advance asked if the children in the doomed PS 14, already deemed a failure, are going
to be relegated to a lower tier in DOE’s eyes?
crystal ball is needed. PS 14, the students and staff will follow the same path
as other phase out schools - not a rosy one.
The good intentions of the Superintendent, staff, parents and CEC will not keep it from traveling this
inevitable path, worn down from so many phasing out schools.
will get a letter stating that the school is being “phased out" - which
should be more aptly labeled, “going through a slow and painful death” – and they
will given the opportunity to transfer out.
of the parents who can negotiate the system, usually test higher, and will
transfer out. The children left behind will be the lower achieving,
traditionally have poorer attendance, and have parents who are the least
connected to school, though not necessarily the least caring. As the population
diminishes, so will the resources. Those with low scores who transfer will
be seen as piranhas as they take their low scores with them to the receiving
schools that will be held accountable for them. To the DOE, these children are -
teachers will know that their days are numbered, and those who can, will
understandably leave to secure jobs and avoid the death sentence of becoming an
staff will be completely demoralized and lack the resources needed to
teach. The principal, whether the current or newly appointed, will know this is
a short time assignment.
new school will get lots of extra money-classrooms will be newly painted, given
lots of equipment, computers, Smartboards, resources, support staff and a
renewed sense of mission - which is not a bad thing – for those children. But the children in the old school will
suffer terribly. Differences will be stark - and all will be painfully aware of
it. There will be turf fights and the “old
PS 14” will inevitably lose. They will
be shortchanged on the use of the gym, library and cafeteria - less learning
and further demoralization.
new school will not have test scores for years and will remain off the failing
lists. The DOE will send special education children elsewhere. So the
number of failing schools will drop citywide and the Mayor will look good. Perhaps the DOE might be trying to build up
the nearby charter school or may even be making room for a new charter since
building charters is their mission.
The staff and children have not failed. The failure falls squarely on the shoulders
of the captains of the ship - Bloom,Klein,Black &Walcott for 10 years of
mismanagement, incompetency, poor leadership and lack of support.
thing that we can count on is this decision is not being made in the best
interest of children.
Jan. 25, 2012, 11:20 a.m.
9:28 p.m. | Updated
The announcements came year after year. Eight schools to shut down in
Manhattan. Ten in the Bronx. Six in Brooklyn. Two in Queens. None on
It was hard for Staten Islanders not to develop a degree of superiority when it came to school closings.
Since 2002, the year Mayor Michael R. Bloomberg gained control of the
system, the city has shut down 117 schools, leaving the borough
untouched — until now.
“Staten Islanders thought they were impervious,” said Anne Marie Caminiti, an education advocate who until recently worked for Parent to Parent of New York State
. “Schools here tend to operate better than many schools around the city.”
But one of them has finally been singled out.
Public School 14 Cornelius Vanderbilt
in the Stapleton area of Staten Island is among 19 schools the city has
marked to be closed, with the final judgment to come on Feb. 9 in a
vote by the Panel for Educational Policy.
At a raucous hearing at P.S. 14 on Wednesday night, about 400
parents, students and teachers filled the auditorium as an overflow
crowd sat in a cafeteria down the hall. About 20 minutes into the
meeting, people in the audience began shouting questions about the
school’s future at officials for the city’s Education Department and
criticizing the plans to close the school.
It is no secret that the school, serving more than 660 students in
prekindergarten through fifth grade, has been struggling. In recent
years, its grade on its progress report card dropped from an A to a C to
P.S. 14 ranked in the bottom 4 percent of elementary schools in the
city in mathematics and English language arts proficiency last year.
About 31 percent of students met state standards on the math exam, while
just 23 percent passed the English exam.
Still, none of that is new, leaving the community to wonder, Why now?
“This is entirely political,” said Sean Rotkowitz, a Staten Island representative for the United Federation of Teachers
“There hasn’t been any school closed on Staten Island, so they needed
to go find a school and, I guess according to the Board of Education,
P.S. 14 fits the bill.”
The school’s principal, Nancy Hargett, said: “This is just
devastating. We were on a journey of improvement. We thought this was
going to be the year we earned an ‘A.’ I don’t understand why they chose
us. I just don’t have the energy for the politics.”
Two other schools on Staten Island also saw their progress report grades drop from an A to a C to a D in recent years: P.S. 52 John C. Thompson
and P.S. 60 Alice Austen
. P.S. 54 Charles W. Leng
went from a B to a C to a D.
A spokesman for the city’s Education Department said the decision to close P.S. 14 was rooted in performance.
“Our goal is to ensure that every student has access to an excellent
school, and despite our support, P.S. 14 has been failing to provide
high-quality education for its students year after year, consistently
scoring near the bottom of schools citywide,” the spokesman, Frank
Thomas, said in a statement. “The decision to propose the school for
phase out is not easy, but it is our responsibility to give this
community a better option.”
The Education Department’s plan would involve phasing out P.S. 14
while opening a new school, Public School 78, in the same building. (In
the time that the city has closed 117 schools, it has also opened 535
new ones.) As P.S. 14’s students graduate, P.S. 78 will grow to accept
children from the neighborhood.
Residents in the area say the plan amounts to much more than a name
change. They say it would strip the school of more than 100 years of
history and take away generational legacies shared by families in which
grandparents, parents and children all attended the same school.
“This is my community school — I’ve been living here for the past 12
years,” said Wasila Amin, 34, a member of the School Leadership Team.
Her children, one in fourth grade and one in first, would be split
between P.S. 14 and P.S. 78 next year under the plan. “My children love
the school. Their teachers have helped them so much.”
a city councilwoman who represents Staten Island’s North Shore, which
includes Stapleton, said P.S. 14’s neighborhood was poor. The borough’s
largest New York City Housing Authority complex is down the block from
P.S. 14, and long lines frequently form at a food pantry across the
Ninety percent of students at P.S. 14 qualify for free or
reduced-price lunch, and 19 percent are entitled to special-education
“This is a community that really needs stability,” Ms. Rose said. “It
needs mental health services, organizations that can come in and
provide support services. If you don’t address the issues of the
community, nothing will change.”
Harold Williams, a technology teacher at P.S. 14, said many of his
students were exposed to drug abuse, alcoholism and crime. Before the
staff members can even begin to teach, he said, they have to become
secondary parents and earn the students’ trust.
In 2009, the school was on the state’s list of persistently dangerous
schools, but it came off a year later, aided by a series of staff and
student workshops, the presence of an additional security officer and
efforts to better the school culture, said Mr. Williams, who is also the
teachers’ union representative at the school.
New reading and math curriculums have been implemented, despite
budget cuts, and math and English test scores have gone up, albeit
slightly. Mr. Williams said the staff had been striving for an A or a B
in the next progress report.
“The D.O.E. claims they gave us support, but me personally, I never
got any support,” he said. “They came and gave us a 44-page PowerPoint
presentation on dealing with very simple problems. They said, ‘Put your
hand on Johnny’s shoulder; try to tell Johnny he can do it.’ That’s not
the kind of stuff we’re dealing with. We have serious issues here.
Johnny wants to kill Mary. Johnny wants to beat up the teacher. Johnny
wants to attack you.”
Mr. Thomas, the Education Department spokesman, said the community’s
challenges were all the more reason for the city to step in.
“We don’t believe students in those kinds of neighborhoods deserve to
be languishing in a low-quality school,” he said. “It’s unfortunate
that a lot of these schools are in low-income areas. Frankly, those are
the students we need to help the most.”
A former principal at the school, Frank Carpenito, said it had always been difficult to get help from the city.
Mr. Carpenito, who worked as a teacher, an assistant principal and a
principal at the school for a combined 34 years, said things had only
gotten worse since he left. He said citywide changes in district
organization had left few school leaders with the kind of close
relationship he once had with P.S. 14′s superintendent.
“He knew me personally,” he said. “He knew my school. He lived on Staten Island. He knew the neighborhood we were in.”
Even then, he said, it was common for P.S. 14 to be ranked toward the
bottom of Staten Island schools, in large part because of the
He recalled the time he met a 34-year-old woman who had just enrolled
her grandson at the school and an instance when he spoke with a student
who didn’t know his own name, only his nickname, “Boo Boo.”
“Closing the school, changing the administration, I think that’s just
an excuse to put the blame on someone else: the city doesn’t have to
say it’s them,” Mr. Carpenito said. “I think the principal there is
doing a wonderful job. I know when I was there, the teachers gave out of
their own pockets, out of their own hearts.”
Amy Padnani is a Web producer for The New York Times and SchoolBook contributor.