Tuesday, January 17, 2017

How the city failed our students at a closing Renewal School

The city has failed to provide steady leadership at JHS 145. There have been three different principals and five different assistant principals over the last five years. There hasn’t been an assistant principal since this school year started. 
Isn't it time to let the teachers and parents pick the principals?

Two teachers at JHS 145X place the blame on the DOE. I was wondering where the UFT, so often a partner in crime in the renewal school program with the DOE, stands on this closing. Informal word is that there has not been much support but if anyone connected to the UFT in the Bronx or at central has more info, please share - you hear, Howie Shore?

Tuesday, January 17

City Department of Education executives tasked with improving the poorest-performing schools are grossly incompetent. As a result, a marginalized and very vulnerable group of impoverished minority students in the Bronx face eviction from their neighborhood school.

That’s the inescapable conclusion if one really scrutinizes how the DOE handled, or mishandled, Junior High School 145, which they now propose closing for its poor student performance on state tests.

We are veteran teachers at JHS 145, which was one of 94 struggling schools identified for a turnaround via Mayor de Blasio’s high-stakes, $150 million-a-year School Renewal Program. In November 2014, the mayor and Education Department heralded the program as a shining example of innovation that would provide the resources, training and

JHS 145, once known as the Arturo Toscanini School, is in one of the poorest congressional districts in the entire country, and gang violence is rampant.
There are approximately 300 students. At least 20% are living in homeless shelters or temporary housing; 21% have learning disabilities, and 18% have gone extended periods of their lives without any education at all.

Of the 300 or so students, more than 130 are just beginning to learn the language. But the department has admittedly failed to provide adequate English as a Second Language instruction.

“All students in the program are suffering because they are entering so far behind and we don’t have enough ESL teachers,” according to the Education Department’s 2016-17 Renewal School Comprehensive Education plan for JHS 145.

And that’s only one of many examples of how the DOE, and by extension the mayor, has failed these kids.

The city has failed to provide students with teachers who are certified in the subjects they are teaching. Nearly 14% of teachers at the school last year were teaching subjects in which they were not trained. In the all-important subject of math, “several teachers lacked the content knowledge necessary to effectively teach the course that they were assigned,” according to the Education Department document.

While the school tried to bring the teachers up to speed, “the gap in content knowledge proved too expansive to close within one year.”
The city has failed to provide students with access to a computer lab. The school was forced to dismantle the computer lab it previously had and convert it into a regular classroom because of a space shortage after the Education Department gave 17 classrooms to a charter school two years ago.

The city has failed to provide students with their own science lab. As a result, they do not receive instruction on the scientific instruments that they ultimately are tested on. The first time they will actually see the instruments will be the day of the test, when they go to a lab located in another school in the same building.

The city failed to provide students with textbooks that go along with the English and math curriculums used by teachers for the entire 2015-16 school year. Teachers had to download and photocopy materials, and most of the math modules didn’t include translation into the languages spoken by English language learners.
The city has failed to provide steady leadership at JHS 145. There have been three different principals and five different assistant principals over the last five years. There hasn’t been an assistant principal since this school year started.

Yet after all these failures, students who very much need stability — remember, one in five are homeless and an equal percentage are special needs kids — will be evicted from their neighborhood school, and will have to apply to other schools. The teachers will have to apply for jobs elsewhere.

Meanwhile, those who really failed the students, and staff, will pretend they’ve done some good but it won’t be remotely true.

Donohue is a certified English teacher at JHS 145. Moss, who also works at JHS 145, also is a certified English teacher but was reassigned to be a technology instructor.


  1. There's not a lot of publicity about this and the other NYC schools that are slated to close. This is a failure at the highest level, in that every resource was thrown at these schools and they still failed. These schools are the excuse for everything DeVos, Moskowitz and Trump want to do.

    1. Every resource -- you must mean the new principal every year resource -- there is an over abundance of principals so why not swap them out and expect a school to improve? There must be a DOE algorithm somewhere -- a school struggle -- find the most incompetent people you can find to run them and dump in a new one. A formula for success.

  2. "Every resource"? I don't think so, No computer lab, no science lab, no AP, not enough ESL teachers, teachers teaching out of license, no math or English textbooks, no translated materials-all in one of the poorest Congressional Districts in the country. Someone obviously wasn't paying attention, and needs to be held accountable, but that's no reason to hand the school over to the second place President or the other two ed deformers.


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