Friday, January 13, 2017

Closing JHS 145 So Eva/Success Academy Can Get Entire Building

Arturo Toscanini
Dear Jim [Donohue], 
You and the other teachers, parents and the students, both current and graduates [JHS 145X - Arturo Tosconini School], knocked it out of the park. The next meeting will be at the school, but guess what, the DOE hasn't told us the date yet. Please stay tuned--when we get the date we would love you all to turn out. There were several local reporters there, along with Kate Taylor, who has taken an interest! The community is speaking up, and they're not happy with the DOE's "proposal."
--------Jane Maisel to teacher Jim Donohue for his heroic fight to save his school
Look Eva, I give up. You can have whatever you want in the future. I'll close any school you need. I got Carmen on the case. ... Bill de Blasio 
-- Ed Notes Fake News - but maybe not.
Eva wants this building
Are school closings politically motivated? Is the closing of JHS 145 a sop to Eva in an effort to blunt some of her opposition to de Blasio's upcoming election campaign - maybe even a little? A sort of bribe? You won't hear much of a peep in protest from the UFT. Did anyone see a UFT presence at last night's hearing to defend the school? If they did I will retract this part of the comment.

Testing expert Fred Smith on today's NY Times piece:
Plan to Close or Merge Schools -- JHS 145 in Bronx is pictured. Prof. Aaron Pallas quoted.

Regarding mergers: At this time, with all of school reorganizing by Bloomberg and renewing by deBlasio, what are the post-merger findings--Is there improvement (considering test data and other data) in School A and B, declines in both schools, or a mixed bag? My guess is that the picture is blurry or the data insufficient to draw conclusions, but the City will continue to merge without clear evidence of benefit.
Reporter Kate Taylor commented:
The schools to be closed are all low-performing, to be sure. In the 2015-16 school year, only 8 percent of the students at J.H.S. 145 passed the state reading tests, and only 3 percent passed the state’s math tests. Even so, it is not clear that they are necessarily the worst among the schools in the program. All of the six schools met at least one of the goals assigned by the city last year. Some are being closed for low enrollment as well.  
Aaron Pallas is  quoted in the article:
Aaron Pallas, a professor of sociology and education at Columbia University’s Teachers College, said, “The fact that the city thinks that it needs to do this for six out of the roughly 80 or so left suggests that things are not going as well as they’d like.”
At the same time, he said, “If these mergers and closures result in new schools that have a new kind of energy, perhaps different staff, perhaps a different culture, that may be better than trying to continue turning around schools that have been struggling for a very long time.”
Interesting that Aaron echoes some of the points made by the old Bloomberg DOE officials about closing and opening schools -- reality was that "successful" new schools were based on changing the student body. When you hear the word "culture" people think - teachers and admin -- but also if you reduce the % of struggling kids that can change the culture. If they redistributed some of the kids and left everything else alone, how would that work out? Like if the kids are having so much trouble why not move 20% into schools with the right "culture" and see what happens. There is "critical mass" in terms of schools.

I also question the kind of top-down "support" the schools get - at times with bad leadership -- and also maybe not a lot of input from teachers -- if they turned a school over to the teachers - why not try that in some of these schools? 

Now I am not against merging schools - after all, BloomKlein broke them up in the first place and it makes little sense to chop everything into so many little bits.

Back to Eva:
It is not only school closings that give Eva what she wants. She is aiming to take over the historic MS 50 building in Williamsburg, a school I worked in as tech support in the latter days of my career. (My frat brother, the late Lou Vidal, was the computer teacher there.) The charter front group uses PR to degrade schools in the public mind to open up space for Eva -- School District 14, covering Williamsburg and Greenpoint, is a complete "middle school desert," according to a report from StudentsFirstNY.

Pat Dobosz who is a Dist 14 community resident and retired teacher emailed:
Eva wants more school space and is making less of our D 14 schools. We have several schools that are up and coming and some are excellent. Eva is n many of our buildings and wants to increase the number of rooms she has. One school she is fighting to expand in is MS 50 that has shown academic improvement and is growing in population.
MORE's Marilena Marchetti has been on the JHS 145 case and sent this to the listserve about yesterday's school closing hearing:
This press release below is from Jim Donohue, a UFT member whose school JHS 145 in the Bronx could close. MORE proudly supported this school's fight to keep Success Academy out. As anticipated, Success is now vying to take over the entire school. They need our support at the March 22 PEP meeting where a vote on the closure will be made.....  it will be held at the HS for Fashion industries 225 W 24th Street in Manhattan.
Parent/Community activist Jane Maisel has also been on the case as per her quote opening this blog post.

Here is Jim Donohue's press release for last night's hearing.

Public Hearing on proposed closure of JHS 145

When: Thursday January 12 at 6 pm.
Where: 1000 Teller Avenue, Bronx NY 10456.
Contact: Jim Donohue 

The Board of Education’s plan to close JHS 145 in the South Bronx must be stopped.

Contrary to what BOE has been saying, closing the school is NOT in the best interest of the children. It would scatter a very vulnerable group of kids – nearly 30 percent are special needs and nearly 20% live in homeless shelters – across the Bronx to other schools.

 These children, who are in desperate need of stability in their lives, would be thrown out of their school because of the failure of adults – namely the Board of Education and the local Superintendent’s Office. 

There’s no doubt the school’s student population has struggled and done poorly on state tests.

But who is to blame?

Here are some glaring examples how the Board of Education has failed these children:

60% of the JHS 145 students are English learners. Most are classified as “entering” English learners, meaning they don’t know English at all, or know very, very little. By law, these students are supposed to get 360 minutes (eight full periods) of English as a Second Language (ESL) a week. Last year, they received Zero for almost the entire school year. That’s because there wasn’t a certified ESL teacher until the very end of the school year.

* While 60% of students have very limited or poor English language skills because English is not their first language, the de Blasio administration has failed to provide a certified math teacher for bilingual students at the school.

That’s incredibly important and relevant. These students, who have very limited English language skills, have to take the state math test – which is almost entirely comprised of word problems. No wonder their math scores are in the toilet.
* The BOE hasn’t even bothered to fill the vacant assistant principal’s position.

* JHS was placed in the city’s Renewal program. It’s supposed to be a three-year deal, but the BOE is pulling the plug before the third year is even halfway done, and before the students even take the state tests in March.

This is just the tip of the iceberg. If anyone failed here it’s the Board of Education. Fix JHS 145 – don’t close it. Evicting the children will not be in their best interest.


Pat D said...

Johanna has given many good suggestions to the folks at JHS 145.. Teachers, parents, students need to organize within your school for the hearing. The DOE hears you, they don't always listen. Have everyone make signs. Get folks to speak on behalf of the school, including students. They can speak in English and/or their native languages. The DOE is mandated to bring interpreters. If they don't, that's something to call them out on and ask for another hearing. This has happened. Get local politicians to support you. They need to be wherever and whenever you protest. Ask surrounding schools in your district to come to the press conference to support your school and students. When one school in D14 was going to be collocated (the DOE wanted to put two JH Schools as well as an elementary school in one building), the staffs at the existing schools organized in the way I described. The second middle school was not put in. With Eva, it's going to be more difficult. But don't let that stop you. She is in our buildings (as is one of her husband's schools). Her expansion has been limited except for one school that didn't fight back. The district and surrounding community also ignored them because they were meek in their protest. The district and the DOE were very willing to give her the entire building ( and she still demands more and more). The superintendent usually sits with the DOE folks as she is the DOE's mouthpiece. Reach out to your community. And then, show up in force at the PEP. it is somewhat of a different day from the Bloomberg PEPs...few crowds, time to speak (within the two minutes) but mike's are not turned off if you go over a bit, and it is live streamed. Invite the press and have a press conference before the PEP begins. Marlena has put out a call for MORE members to attend the PEP. We need to do more of this kind of support again. It doesn't have to be a losing batle or one done alone, but it has to be organized locally.

I'm adding MORE members to this discussion as many have been involved in this struggle against closing schools and Success Academy invasions.

Pat Dobosz

ed notes online said...

I have found that the best way to oppose DOE proposals either closures or co-locations is to go through the Bronx PEP member, the borough presidents office and the Regents -- in this case, the very influential Betty Rosa, who is the Bronx member and the
regents Chancellor.

The principal should Invite all the Pep members but esp the Bronx PEP member as well as Monica Major, the Bronx BP education staffer, and a rep from Carl Heasties office - who is the Bronx speaker of the .assembly - to visit the school. If you need their emails let me know.

Betty in particular is very influential and very sensitive to ELL issues. If they are sympathetic you ask them to contact the DoE and or the mayor On your behalf.

You can also invite the Assemblymember, State senator and Councilmember who represents your district as well as Carl heastie, the very powerful Bronx Speaker of the Assembly,

In my experience tends to be far more effective strategy than either press conferences or rallies. If they do respond thru email, be persistent and call their offices.
Thanks leonie