Monday, February 26, 2018

Panel on Education Policy to vote on a proposal to close The Eubie Blake School, a successful small school in Bed Stuy - The Patch

The Patch uses Leonie's Haimson's fabulous blog post -- with a 15 page analysis of PS 25 -- click the link and see below.

PEP Votes on Proposal to Close P.S. 25 | Public Meeting Feb 28

The Panel on Education Policy to vote on a proposal to close The Eubie Blake School, a successful small school in Bed Stuy

By Leah Mullen, Patch Poster | | Updated

The New York City Department of Education is proposing to close P.S. 25 (The Eubie Blake School), a small school in the Bedford Stuyvesant area. A public notice issued by the DOE states that the proposal is based on "persistently low enrollment and lack of demand from students and families."

A blog run by New York City public school parents says that the school should be commended not closed. Referring to a DOE analysis, the blog states that "PS 25 is the second best elementary school in Brooklyn and the fourth best elementary school in the entire city when the need level of its students is taken into account."
The DOE public notice acknowledges that P.S. 25 test scores have increased over the last three years, yet enrollment has declined by 43% during the same time frame. This is despite "multiple prior interventions, such as programmatic changes at the school, recruitment and re-branding support, and school re-design," states the DOE.

According to an article in Our Times Press, supporters of P.S. 25 have waged a campaign to save the school, which includes reaching out to elected officials and rallying the help of residents and neighbors.

The Panel on Education Policy (PEP) votes on the proposal to close P.S. 25 in a meeting open to the public this week. If PEP approves the proposal, P.S. 25 will close at the end of the 2017- 2018 school year.
Date, time and location of the PEP meeting at which this proposal will be voted on:
Date: February 28, 2018
Time: 6 p.m.
Location: Murry Bergtraum High School for Business Careers, 411 Pearl Street, New York, NY 10038

It's worth republishing Leonie's blog:

Why PS 25 Eubie Blake should be celebrated rather than closed

Chancellor Farina has proposed closing many schools that don't deserve this fate, including the middle school at Wadleigh in Harlem and PS/IS 42 in Queens, whose communities have rallied to save them from extinction. 

Yet the most unfair of all these proposals involves the proposed closure of a small zoned elementary school called PS 25 Eubie Blake in District 16 in Brooklyn, which has gotten little attention so far in the media, save for a story in a small community paper.  Why?

According to the DOE's own analysis, displayed on its School Performance Dashboard, PS 25 is the second best elementary school in Brooklyn and the fourth best elementary school in the entire city when the need level of its students is taken into account.  It also outperforms every Success Academy charter school by the way in its positive impact -- except for Success Academy Bronx 2.  (You can check out the relative impact ratings of all NYC schools, both public and charter in this spreadsheet.)

If it closes, the entire building will be left to Success Bed Stuy 3, which is now co-located with PS 25.

The only three elementary schools which have a greater positive impact on student achievement, out of 661 elementary schools citywide, according to the DOE, are the Walton Ave. school in the Bronx, PS 15 in Manhattan (the latter recently taken off the Renewal list) and PS 172 in District 15.  It also recently was named a Reward school by the state.

(All the data below can be found on the school's performance dashboard, linked to above.)

Last year, PS 25 enrolled a large percentage (31%) of special needs students w/ IEPs, 10% with serious disabilities in self-contained classes, and its students had a high economic need index (85%).

And yet its students have improved sharply on the state exams in recent years --  to levels far above even the city average:
The school met expectations in all framework scores, according to the School Survey and Quality Review, and exceeded in four of them  -- effective school leadership, trust, collaborative teachers and student achievement:
Here is the DOE chart, showing PS 25's positive impact compared to the other 661 elementary schools in the city:
The school outperforms other elementary schools with similar populations in terms of proficiency on the state exams by an astonishing  21% in ELA and Math.  
PS 25 students with IEPs in its inclusion classes especially shine, outperforming similar students by 47% in ELA and 20% in math.  PS 25 students in self-contained classes outperform similar students by an astonishing 53% and 51% respectively:
So why does the Chancellor want to close PS 25, given this exemplary, even stellar record of achievement?  The Educational Impact Statement says the school is being closed "based on low enrollment and lack of demand from students and family."   According to the EIS,  PS 125 is serving only 94 students this year.
Yet many of the public schools in District 16 are losing enrollment, in part because of the super-saturation of charter schools in the district. Moreover, families in these neighborhoods haven't been told that according to the DOE's analysis, the school is the second best in the Brooklyn in terms of its positive impact on student achievement, and the fourth best in the entire city;  if they had, they would be far more likely to enroll their children in the school. 
When I spoke to three of the CEC members, they too had not been informed of the DOE's assessment showing that the school's impact far transcends every other school in the district -- charter or public.  The Chancellor could also put another preK in the school, or place a 3K in the building if she wanted its enrollment to grow.

The fact that the school is under-enrolled is also likely one of the reasons  it has succeeded so brilliantly, with exceptionally small class sizes that range from 10 to 18 -- the sort of class sizes and teacher support that all high-need kids in poverty should receive. 
There are also legal issues involved in the proposed closure of PS 25, which is the only zoned elementary school in the neighborhood.  Any change in zoning lines, including the elimination of school zones, requires a vote of the Community Education Council.  So far no such vote has been scheduled, though members of the CEC have expressed support for its proposed closure because of its low enrollment.
If the school is closed, the teachers will likely enter the Absent Teacher Reserve, meaning they will be paid full salary to act as substitutes or rove from school to school, without ever being assigned their own classes or being used to reduce class size.  What a waste!

In any case, closing a public school which has provided its students with such a rare opportunity to succeed would be a travesty in my view.   The DOE should be celebrating, emulating and expanding this school rather than closing it. 
For more on what the DOE's own data shows about this school, check out the power point below.  The vote will occur on Feb. 28 at the PEP meeting at Murry Bergtraum High School in lower Manhattan.

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