Updated: Report on Leonie's blog: https://
Leonie joined this battle early on and we had Lisa and Gloria from our closing school committee involved too.
Below is Leonie's report to the listserve with more info to come later.
|Post Court ruling victory photo. Gloria Brandman in the house as always.|
We won our temporary restraining order; Judge Katherine Levine of the Kings County Supreme Court said unless she has an epiphany in the next two weeks, the school should remain open next year and she will decide the complex legal merits of the case more carefully over the next few months.Leonie made fools of the DOE -- and by default, possibly the UFT which did not put up much of a battle to keep PS 25 open. (I would bet that some charter invasions were involved in the closing.) I probably have more video available from the PEPs but here is the one of Leonie and her assistant, Sebastian Spitz, speaking at the April PEP:
She seemed impressed with our research on how all the other 33 schools DOE offered these kids were 1- had a lower impact ratings 2- many of them were miles away, 19 in Staten island for example 3- 25 were overcrowded, and 4- none had class sizes as low. And the DOE has not offered to provide busing for the students.
In short, she was impressed that in most every other school closing instance, the DOE promises better schools to the kids attending the closed school, but they didn’t in this case because there are only 3 in the entire city and only one other in Brooklyn and they are full.
She asked the attorneys – what’s the balance of harm? What the worst that happens if the TRO stays - the kids have the benefit of an excellent school for another year? The City attorney tried to argue this would hold up assignments for 3000 kids in all the closing schools, but the judge dismissed this and basically said that’s absurd. All the other assignments can go through. (actually there aren’t 3000 kids in closing schools – but about 2000 kids in all the closing schools & 661 in elementary schools and none of them will be affected but the kids at PS 25, whose parents want them to remain) .
She was also interested in the zoning issue, that the CEC hadn’t voted to approve this; said what public input was there? The DOE explained there were public meetings, etc. where parents expressed their concerns. The Judge said but you don’t have to listen them, right? Is that the DOE’s position?
Let’s hope the city doesn’t appeal. We are also going to ask that they put a 3K and a preK in the school for the fall – since there are waiting lists for D16 parents, especially for 3K. it’s probably too late for Kindergarten though.
The two parents who were there, the PTA president and VP were hugging and whooping it up. Here is a photo from afterwards of parents, PS 25 supporters and our attorney Laura Barbieri in front of the court house. More soon.
Fred Smith suggested Leonie should replace Tish James as the Public Advocate since Leonie has done more public advocacy than anyone.
Earlier today Leonie posted this:
Today, the Washington Post Answer Sheet published my open letter to Carranza on why he should keep PS 25 open:
Where: Kings County Supreme Court, 360 Adams St ., Brooklyn, part 72.
Why is New York City trying to close a successful public high-needs school?
Dear Chancellor Carranza:This afternoon, Thursday May 24, hearings will be held in the New York Supreme Court on a lawsuit to prevent the closure of PS 25 in Brooklyn. PS 25 is a school in Bedford-Stuyvesant with a very high-needs population: 94 percent of its students are black or Hispanic, 86 percent are economically disadvantaged, 31 percent of its students have special needs, and about 23 percent are homeless.And yet according to the New York City Department of Education (DOE) performance dashboard, PS 25 is the fourth best out of 661 public elementary schools in NYC and the second best in Brooklyn; it also outperforms every charter school but one Success charter school in the Bronx. In fact, the DOE admits all these facts in its response to the lawsuit. If the school is closed, the entire building would be left to Success Academy Bed Stuy 3.As the DOE’s own statistics reveal, PS 25 outperforms other schools with similar populations by an amazing 21 percentage points in ELA and Math, while its special needs students outperform similar students by an amazing 47 percentage points in English Language Arts. It also scores very high in all the other standards DOE uses to evaluate schools, including effective school leadership, trust, and collaborative teachers. Because of its stellar performance, the school was recently named a “Reward school” by the New York State Education Department.Why is the school so successful? By all accounts, the teachers are excellent and the class sizes are very small: only 10-18 students per class, far below the city averages.Understandably, the parents at PS 25 are passionately devoted to keeping the school open. When the announcement was first made about its closure, New York City Education Department officials called a meeting for the next day, and more than 70 percent of the members of the school community showed up to protest. More than 80 percent of parents sent letters and/or signed petitions, begging Chancellor Carmen Farina and our appointed school board, the Panel for Educational Policy, not to close the school. Yet when the vote was held on February 28, only the five borough president appointees voted to keep it open while all the eight mayoral appointees approved its closing.However, the DOE had never informed anyone, including the Panel on Educational Policy, about PS 25’s exceptionally high rating as the fourth best elementary school in the city. Nor did they mention this in the Educational Impact Statement, the legal document that is supposed to describe the effect of a school’s closure.Why does the DOE say the school should be closed? Because of its “persistently low enrollment.” PS 25 has only about 100 students, and yet there are at least five other schools in the city with smaller enrollments that are not being closed. Moreover, the fact there is available space in the building is one of the reasons that PS 25 has been able to keep its classes exceptionally small, unlike most of elementary schools in New York City which are overcrowded.Certainly, Chancellor Carranza, the DOE has other options if you want to boost enrollment. You could place another pre-K or put a 3K in the school. You could even co-locate another existing school in the building, to learn from the best practices of PS 25. And if parents were told of the school’s exceptionally high quality, surely more of them would consider enrolling their children in the school; the lawsuit includes affidavits of pre-K parents attesting to this fact.In addition, state law requires that the district’s Community Education Council (CEC), composed primarily of public school parents, vote to approve any alteration in school zoning lines before this can occur. In 2009, then-Chancellor Joel Klein announced he intended to close three zoned elementary schools, and to give their buildings over to three Success Academy charter schools. Less than two weeks after New York Civil Liberties Union sued on behalf of parents to block this action, pointing out the lack of CEC approval, the chancellor announced that all three schools would remain open.Like this prior case, the CEC has never voted to close PS 25. As the PS 25 memo of law points out:“Entirely eliminating a zoned school and without replacing it with another zoned school, leaving the families in this neighborhood without any zoned school that their children have the right to attend, as occurred in this instance, is the most radical change in zoning lines that can be conceived.”In the meantime, the Department of Education has offered PS 25 parents a list of 33 schools to which their children can apply to attend. Eighteen of these schools are on Staten Island, many miles away, 25 are overcrowded, and none of them have as small classes as PS 25 or as large a positive impact on learning. It is no wonder that only about a third of PS 25 parents have filled out any application at all.Most of the research relates to the impact of closing low-performing schools, since this is almost never done in the case of high-performing schools. A recent study from Chicago found a negative impact on learning even from closing struggling schools, resulting from the severe disruption in the students’ lives. One of the few studies that analyzed the impact on students when a high-performing school is closed concluded:“ … closure students who ended up in inferior or equivalent settings were prone to making fewer academic gains than their peers in other low-performing schools that remained open. … The finding also held for a number of racial-ethnic groups and was particularly salient for black and Hispanic closure students. The effect was most pronounced for black and Hispanic students in poverty.”Of course, the vast majority of students at PS 25 are black or Hispanic and poor.And this finding:“ … if students are sent to schools which are similarly low-performing or even worse than their closed schools, closure generally will result in negative learning outcomes.”Recently a book was published called “Selling School, the Marketing of Public Education,” written by Catherine DiMartino and Sarah Butler Jessen, focusing primarily on the extensive marketing and promotion efforts of charter schools, especially those operated by well-funded charter management organizations such as KIPP, Success and Democracy Prep.In particular, Success Academy spends millions of dollars each year on advertising, videos, and mailings to promote its schools. And yet here is a superlative public school that, according to the Department of Education’s own estimate, not only surpasses the quality of every Success charter school but one, and yet the department has not only failed to promote the school but then wants to close it down.Chancellor Carranza: On Tuesday in hearings before the New York City Council, you spoke eloquently about how the city should be celebrating our successful public schools, rather than allowing others to denigrate them. In particular, you noted that you had seen some great teaching in Bed-Stuy schools. If you are serious about this, you should rescind the decision to close this school and instead celebrate its accomplishments.The negative impact on PS 25 families would be severe if this closure is allowed to go forward, especially for the large number of homeless students, because the school is a sanctuary of stability in their lives. As Mark Cannizaro, the president of the CSA, the New York City principals’ union, has said, “the students, families and educators of PS 25 deserve better.”Instead of closing this exceptional school, we urge you to honor PS 25’s achievements, emulate and expand it — and enable more NYC schools and students to have the same chance to succeed.Yours, Leonie Haimson on behalf of PS 25 families