Tuesday, January 16, 2018

Stop Closing Schools: School Scope and Videos - Rockaway - PS 42 and IS 53

There are about 4 hours of videos. It was a busy week last week and another one coming up over the closing schools issue. We have a here.

Delegate Assembly tomorrow and a big hearing at Global Tech in Harlem on Thursday. More on that outrage later. My School Scope is below the videos - which I intend to cut up into smaller segments. My own little piece of video is

PS 42 Videos
Part 1:

Part 2: https://vimeo.com/250662998
Part 3: https://vimeo.com/250698838
Part 4: https://vimeo.com/250724680

IS 53: https://vimeo.com/251005346

Here is my upcoming column in The WAVE, published January 19, 2018:

School Scope:  Closing Schools: Bad for Students, Parents, Teachers and Community
By Norm Scott

Black Lives clearly don’t matter to DOE officials and the Mayor despite the rhetoric.

On January 9, I videotaped (see below for links) the closing school informational session at PS 42 (there will be a hearing at the school on Feb. 13 at 6PM). The auditorium was packed with hundreds of parents, students, teachers, local politicians and community members, mostly people of color and all opposed to the closing. UFT officials, led by Queens Borough leader Amy Arundell, were also present. There were 70 speakers. The meeting and pre-meeting rally lasted over 3 hours. DOE’s District 27 Superintendent Mary Barton sat in front of the room stone-faced the entire time – shades of the ghouls of Joel Klein years, led by the infamous John White, now head of the state of Louisiana schools. It was if nothing had changed from the Bloomberg years. DOE officials looking on obliviously while children and their parents and teachers pleaded to keep their community intact. The school has clearly struggled academically but has managed to triple its growth from what was obvious from the meeting and the rally before, PS 42 is vibrant  and the closing of the school, to be replaced by two new ones, will fracture that community. Patricia Finn, principal for seven years, received so  many accolades I could see her blushing from across the room. But raves for her humanity and caring, in education based on the numbers, doesn’t count for much. Many parents and teachers pointed out that area of Rockaway is gentrifying and the DOE wants to move out the poorly performing students (and teachers) and open up space for new arrivals from the additions to Arverne by the Sea. 

The next night I attended the closing event for IS 53 in Far Rockaway (the closing hearing at the school is on Feb. 7 at 6PM), a school shared with another public school, Village Academy, also under academic threat. VA may absorb some of the students, but not all. Lurking within the IS 53 building is Eva Moskowitz’ Success Academy, always in an expansive mode. People said Success is already measuring their space before the February 28 vote at the Panel for Educational policy. No crystal ball needed to see the future. Village Academcy will be squeezed and Moskowitz gets the building to add to her growing empire, a school system within a school system. A school system known to push out poor performing students and kicking them back into the public schools.  Last year we saw the same thing happen to JHS 145 in the Bronx, with a Moskowitz school in the building pushing to expand. De Blasio promised to stand up to charters, Instead he has figured out a slick way to hand space to charters by closing schools they covet.

Parent groups have pointed out how the DOE did not give the closing schools the kind of support they needed, like lowering class size for the most in need students. Instead they got consultants and PD up the kazoo. Stories abound on how the people on the ground in the schools were not consulted but dictated to – reinforcing the sense that they are the ones at fault. From what I saw in the spirit of the staffs of PS 42 and IS 53, teachers are incredibly proud of their work and many parents and students echo those feelings.

What closing a school does is destroy an educational community. One parent asked at IS 53, pointing to DOE officials, “What is your responsibility? Where are you accountable for not providing the resources to the school? For diverting so much money to wasted resources that didn’t impact the students?”

While UFT officials were at both hearings to show the staff they back them the union must take a proactive stand in support. The UFT is playing its cards close to its vest when it should be standing up against all school closings and backing the schools to the hilt. Usually the union helps by getting buses for the Feb. 28 hearing at the PEP where the vote will be held when schools show some resistance despite knowing full well the vote is predetermined. The union needs to put more public and private pressure on the politicians to try to move the PEP vote in the direction of the schools.

Norm feels the pressure all the time and also posts the PS 42 and IS 53 videos at ednotesonline.com.


  1. Curious if you felt the UFT turnout was better for PS42 than usual for this kind of thing? Correct me if I'm wrong but usually there is no UFT turnout?

  2. They seem to be turning up. I suspect the ch Ldr is unity. But a few turned up at is 53 and some spoke to me at da today about turning up. We'll see if they show at global. Not strictly a closing.

  3. But then again the turnout at PS 42 was larger than most and the UFT turned out accordingly. So vibrancy of response is connected. But they did not speak and Mulgrew keeps saying -- we told them they weren't supporting -- but apparently they whispered this instead of shouting it from the rooftops.

  4. The CL is UNITY. You are very observant! lol He works closely with the District rep and all her immediate people.


Comments are welcome. Irrelevant and abusive comments will be deleted, as will all commercial links. Comment moderation is on, so if your comment does not appear it is because I have not been at my computer (I do not do cell phone moderating). Or because your comment is irrelevant or idiotic.