Thursday, April 19, 2012

33 Schools United: City-Wide Rally Against School Closures at DOE Headquarters Today, April 19th @ 4:30 pm

Date: Thursday April 19, 2012: 4:30-6 PM

Michael Solo, Teacher at John Dewey High School: 917-750-7510 (
Kevin Kearns, Teacher at Lehman High School: 201-314-6914 (

33 Schools United: City-Wide Rally Against School Closures at DOE Headquarters

On April 19th, 2012 at 4:30 PM at Department of Education Headquarters (52 Chambers Street, New York, NY) teachers, parents, students and community members will rally to protest the DOE policy of closing schools.

With a cynical misrepresentation of the truth, Mayor Bloomberg is holding 26 Persistently Lowest Achieving (PLA) schools hostage to his demands. The NYCDOE walked out on negotiations with the UFT to finalize an evaluation system for teachers. Agreement on an evaluation process would have allowed School Improvement Grant (SIG) funds to continue being available for the (PLA) schools. Funding for the schools has been frozen because of the impasse in negotiations. The NYCDOE refuses to return to the negotiating table and has threatened 26 of the 33 (PLA) schools with closure through a process called "turnaround".

"Turnaround" is a failed policy because it is disruptive and distracting to the entire school community. It is a model that has been borrowed from the business world and we all know how well the American business model has fared during the past decade. Turnaround destroys bonds between students and teachers. It demoralizes the entire school community when instead the school community should be bolstered and strengthened.

All of the PLA schools have endured years of neglect and threats from the NYCDOE. We have worked hard to move our schools forward and we are making great strides in overcoming the tremendous obstacles that were put in our path by the NYCDOE. Why is Mayor Bloomberg still threatening our school communities?

Bloomberg's policy of school closure has gone on too long.  In three terms of Mayoral Control, Bloomberg has now closed over 100 schools.  Many of the schools voted to phase out on February 9th, were schools opened under the Bloomberg administration.  The policy of closure, phase-out, and now turnaround, has not improved our school system in any way.  Bloomberg continues this policy only to hide the data that would paint him as a failure on education.  He is ruining the lives of a generation of students all for his own political gain.

As recent research has demonstrated, having a consistent set of teachers increases student success. However, a huge turnover in staff will have a negative impact on the students who remain at the affected schools, decreasing the likelihood of students' graduation and achievement.  Furthermore many of the programs that are successful at these schools, including electives, clubs, and AP courses, many not run when the majority of the new staff is untrained.

Mayoral control of the NYCDOE under Mayor Bloomberg has been a colossal failure. The very idea that one person has been granted the authority to close any school without input from teachers, parents, and students is a mockery of the concept of democracy. What lesson are our students learning about how this city and our nation work if the voices of affected communities are shut out? We need an end to mayoral control of our public schools.

Bullies depend on their victims to be unprepared to defend themselves.  A coalition of chapter leaders, delegates and members from many of the original 33 Turnaround schools have decided to fight back. We are tired of being used as pawns in Mayor Bloomberg's bid to cripple our schools and public education. We will continue to push back until the policy of school closure has ended.

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