Posts from April 26th, 2012
April 26, 2012
We’re stationed right now at the Prospect Heights Campus in Brooklyn, where the Panel for Educational Policy is set to vote tonight on two dozen school closure proposals.
It’s not the usual venue for a contentious panel meeting — the longest meetings have all been held at Brooklyn Technical High School — but the closures are also not the usual type.
Instead of phasing out the schools and slowly opening new ones, the city is proposing to close the schools at the end of the year and reopen them immediately according to a federally prescribed school improvement strategy known as “turnaround.” Under the city’s proposals, which have elicited intense opposition, the schools would get new names, new teachers, and, often, new principals.
For an overview of the controversial policy at the heart of tonight’s meeting, check out our two-part primer. And stay tuned for up-to-the-minute coverage of the panel meeting, which Chancellor Dennis Walcott warned earlier today could go late into the night.
11:58 p.m. And it’s over: All of the turnaround closure votes are done and have passed. Between February and today, the panel has approved 44 school closures to begin or take place this summer — far more than in any previous year.
The panel still has to vote on 17 proposals about school space usage, 10 involving charter schools. They are proceeding quickly through the votes.
11:54 p.m. A teacher from John Dewey High School has broken out in tears behind reporters.
According to the thin crowd of teachers who shout the tally after each vote, those who vote yes are “puppets” and those who cast no votes are “heroes.”
11:48 p.m. Eight to four is the pattern of the night. The seven mayoral appointees who are present tonight are voting for each turnaround plan, as is the Staten Island borough president’s appointee, Diane Peruggia. The four other borough presidents’ appointees are voting against each proposal, in a reprise of the vote count from school closure hearings in February and last year.
One teacher has taken to shouting, “Let’s count … is it eight?” each time a vote is tallied. Other audience members are joining in the chorus.
11:46 p.m. The voting has begun. The panel members dispatch with Queens representative Dmytro Fedkowskyj’s resolution against turnaround quickly, voting 8-4 against it. (more…)
April 26, 2012
Anaisbely Franjul wants to be a writer. The seventh-grader at M.S. 118 said she reads constantly and especially loves fiction and poetry.
But when she opened last week’s state reading test, she was stressed out. She saw words she didn’t know and faced down a reading passage about the thyroid, an organ she hadn’t encountered before. On the second day of testing, she was thrown by the listening passages.
So she wrote a poem about her experience. When she submitted it to GothamSchools, she wrote, “I am a middle school student in the Bronx, who like many others, felt stressed about the state test. Book 2 really hit me like 100 needles in the back and I decided to write a poem about how I felt.”
Here’s an excerpt from “Book 2,” which is published in full in the Community section:
The pale chalk
In my teacher’s hand
Mocking my pain
As she erases the numbers and says
“Two minutes left” (more…)
April 26, 2012
Anaisbely Franjul is a seventh-grader at M.S. 118 William Niles in the Bronx. She wrote this poem after taking last week’s state reading exam, whose scores will count when she and other seventh-graders apply to high school next year. Franjul hopes to attend LaGuardia High School for Music and Art & the Performing Arts to pursue her (more…)
April 26, 2012
Chancellor Dennis Walcott is so ready for yet another raucous Panel for Educational Policy meeting tonight that he has reserved the Prospect Heights Campus auditorium until 9 a.m. Friday.
“We’re prepared to stay all night and into the morning,” Walcott told Rosanna Scotto and Greg Kelly, the “Good Day New York” crew at Fox 5 during an appearance this morning.
But there’s a chance that tonight could actually be much less heated than some of the panel meetings that have taken place over the past school year.
That’s because two key organizers behind the protests, rallies, and theatrics at those meetings are taking a backseat tonight. The teachers union is largely staying away and Occupy the DOE protesters who have disrupted previous meetings say they plan to keep a low profile. Only a new group, Students Activists United, which grew out of the Alliance for Quality Education and the Coalition for Educational Justice’s efforts against school closures, has plans for an organized protest.
The groups cite political and practical reasons for stepping back, and seasoned activists also say they are suffering from protest fatigue after shouting themselves hoarse at panel meetings whose outcomes seem predetermined.
“After witnessing so many bad PEP meetings, no one has any hope that this will not be another rubber-stamp approval across the board,” said Kevin Kearns, a teacher at Lehman High School in the Bronx. (more…)
April 26, 2012
When the Panel for Educational Policy meets tonight to consider dozens of proposals for school “turnaround,” two high schools with a host of a heavyweight supporters won’t be on the agenda.
Bushwick Community High School and Grover Cleveland High School were among 26 schools that the department had proposed to close and reopen — with new names and new teachers — in an attempt to win federal school reform funds.
Department officials had said the schools needed radical interventions to help them improve. But today the officials said they had determined after listening to public comment and reviewing performance data that Bushwick and Cleveland didn’t need major changes after all.
The schools “have demonstrated an ability to continue their improvements without the more comprehensive actions that are clearly needed at 24 other schools,” said Chancellor Dennis Walcott in a statement.
The about-face comes weeks after the department yanked seven top-rated schools from the turnaround list and just hours before the panel’s scheduled vote. It also comes after the schools received intense political and community support and, in the case of Bushwick, media attention. (more…)
April 26, 2012
- This generation will be the first in many not to undergo much more schooling than its parents. (WSJ)
- Preparations are underway for tonight’s Panel for Educational Policy votes on turnaround. (NY1)
- We summed up turnaround’s past, present, and probable future in two parts. (GothamSchools 1, 2)
- Council speaker Christine Quinn was the latest official to support one of the schools. (GothamSchools)
- Principals union chief Ernest Logan says the city needs reforms beyond unwise closures. (Daily News)
- But Chancellor Dennis Walcott defends school closures, saying they induce improvement. (Daily News)
- Bedbugs are down in the city, but parents say they are all over East New York’s P.S. 224. (Daily News)
- Parents are giving three charter middle schools proposed for Queens a warm response. (Daily News)
- P.S. 24 is likely not to be able to accommodate all the gifted qualifiers in its district. (Riverdale Press)