Posts tagged "closures"
February 3, 2012
The regular English classes that Carla LaChapelle teaches all have at least 30 students this year.
Last year, Miguel Estrella said he studied for the United States History Regents exam using a textbook that stopped at the Cold War.
LaChapelle and Estrella were among nearly 100 students, alumni, teachers, and activists at Samuel Gompers Career and Technical Education High School Thursday evening to challenge the city’s plan to close the school. They said inadequate resources and a flood of high-needs students led to a failing grade on the progress report that the city uses to assess schools.
Dozens of student speakers organized by two groups, Sistas and Brothas United and the Urban Youth Collaborative, steered the rowdy, three-and-a-half hour long hearing at the South Bronx campus. Many speakers refused to follow protocol the Department of Education has set for the closure hearings that would cut public comments off at two minutes each.
Along with a smaller handful of alumni and teachers, they painted a picture of Gompers as a warehouse for special education and high-needs students that has long suffered from inadequate funding. (more…)
December 9, 2011
Some of the teachers at Samuel Gompers Career and Technical Education High School held their breath when administrators called them into the school’s music room shortly after third-period this morning. Moments later, officials from the Department of Education and the teachers union announced that Gompers would be one of 19 schools the city tries to close this year.
Gompers’s progress report card grade dropped from a C to an F this year. But even last year city officials had flagged the school for its low performance, making it one of a handful of schools eligible to receive federal school improvement grants. When Gompers wasn’t selected for the funds, some predicted that closure would become a more likely intervention for the school.
The news still came as a surprise for three teachers I spoke to today, who asked not to be identified because they were instructed not to speak to reporters.
“It came as a complete surprise to us,” said one technology teacher. “Our school management team told us they had a strategy and as long as we followed it we’d be okay.”
The teacher, who has been at the technology-focused school for nearly a decade, said this year administrators told teachers to document all of their lessons diligently and collect more data on student improvement — policies that rankled some more experienced teachers. (more…)
December 8, 2011
At 15 schools across the city today, administrators who had only just found out that their schools were slated to close broke the bad news to parents, teachers, and students. We stopped by schools in three boroughs to see how community members were responding.
Jane Addams High School for Academic Careers
Students at Jane Addams heard about the closure announcement either from their eighth-period teachers or from letters distributed by staff and DOE officials who were at the school before the 2:20 p.m. dismissal.
A school staff member said teachers were staying late to meet with administrators and union officials but that few were surprised by today’s news.
“We had a meeting a month earlier, so we were kind of expecting it.” she said, referring to the early engagement meetings the DOE has held at each of the 47 schools it considered for closure.
Since then, Jane Addams has been mired in a massive crediting scandal, first reported by the Daily News, that could threaten graduation for hundreds of students.
Students today said they were worried how the closure decision would affect their credits. But they were divided about whether the school deserved its fate. (more…)
September 7, 2011
The city is getting a total of just under $60 million in federal grants to help dozens of struggling schools.
The grants, which the State Education Department formally announced today, are hardly unexpected. In July, the city and teachers union hashed out an eleventh-hour deal on teacher evaluations to clear the way for 33 low-performing schools to receive them.
The surprise is that 11 school closures — many of which the city had planned since 2009 — are being chalked up to “turnaround,” an overhaul model that the city said it was dropping.
Turnaround requires a new principal, most teachers replaced, and organizational changes — all hallmarks of the city’s longstanding closure program, in which low-performing schools phase out and new schools open in their place. But for months, the city had not mentioned turnaround as an option.
In fact, back in May, when it looked like the city would have to filed its grant application without the UFT’s support, the city said it was abandoning its plan to use the turnaround model and would instead adopt the less-invasive “restart” approach. (more…)
April 6, 2011
A high school that is slated to close just lost its second principal in a year, and community members are agitating to play a stronger role in selecting their next leader.
Katherine Kefalas, the embattled interim acting principal of Brooklyn’s Paul Robeson High School, was removed yesterday, Department of Education officials confirmed, and a new interim principal, Ronald Wells, was named.
Students and teachers say Kefalas, who had shepherded South Shore High School in the final months before it closed, was never a good fit for Robeson and wasn’t giving the school what it needed to improve.
“We needed someone strong, passionate, and committed, who believed in our community and our students and had experience to stand on,” said Stefanie Siegel, a longtime Robeson teacher. “She had none of this and to make it worse she was afraid, defensive, and didn’t listen or respect the knowledge, history, and experience here. … She was not the right person for Robeson and that was obvious from the minute she stepped in the building.”
But they are also saying that want more control over who their next principal will be. “We don’t want an inexperienced principal to take over a school in crisis,” 10 members of the school’s student government wrote in a statement. (more…)
February 2, 2011
Seven takeaways from last night’s marathon Panel for Educational Policy meeting, for those who don’t have time for 6,000-plus words, minute-to-minute updates, or actually traveling to Brooklyn Tech in the storm:
1. Bloomberg’s agenda was unsurprisingly approved: 10 schools will phase out, four new co-locations will occur. But on the panel, opposition now comes from more members than simply the Manhattan and Bronx appointees.
Patrick Sullivan, the Manhattan borough president’s appointee, is no longer the sole voice of opposition on the panel. And while Bronx borough president Ruben Diaz Jr.’s appointee has been making opposition known for a while now, the other borough representatives are beginning slowly to join.
Only mayoral appointees, for instance, voted in favor of proposals that would benefit the Success Charter Network schools run by CEO Eva Moskowitz, a former City Council member and perennial mayoral hopeful.
Besides ‘no’ votes, another manifestation of opposition to Bloomberg came in the form of a skirmish. From 9:53 p.m.:
Audience members told Anna that they saw Sullivan push Morales from behind. Then Tino Hernandez, the panel’s chair, and Deputy Chancellor Santiago Taveras got between them and escorted Sullivan back to his seat. Sullivan then told the audience that one of the mayoral appointees on the panel had approached him to “taunt” him, kicking off the clash. He proposed that the panel postpone their votes to another day on account of the bad weather, but this motion failed.
When the parents behind Anna saw the tussle begin, they started yelling: “Security! Where is security?” A few security guards did edge onto the stage but then backed away, Anna reports.
Sullivan told the Daily News that he was just tapping Morales on the back.
2. Families reached out across the closure aisle, sometimes poetically.
From Anna’s 9:12 p.m. report:
… some MCA [Metropolitan Corporate Academy, slated for closure] kids are rapping about racism and school closure. The charter school kids and parents are clapping the beat. (more…)
April 21, 2010
In a year when legal wrangling complicated the high school admissions process, the city managed to place more than half of eighth-graders in their first-choice school, city officials said today.
Still, more than 6,500 eighth-graders didn’t get into any high school at all, according to the Department of Education’s annual press release touting admissions results. The city released the results today, nearly a month later than usual and more than two weeks after the department mailed out admissions decisions that had been delayed by a lawsuit over school closures.
The 80,412 students who submitted high school applications included 8,382 students who applied to one of the 14 high schools the city tried to close this year. Originally, the department planned to assign those students to another high school listed on their application. But after the city lost a lawsuit stopping the school closures, the department generated new matches for the students, giving 1,397 of them a choice between attending a school the city has deemed failing and another school the student ranked lower. (The other 7,000 students ranked the schools slated for closure so low on their applications that they were placed elsewhere.) Students have until the end of next week to choose, according to a letter sent to principals last week by Leonard Trerotola, the department’s high school enrollment director.
An additional 174 students who were matched with schools originally slated to close will be able to submit an application in the supplementary round, typically reserved for students who were not accepted to any school. (more…)
December 9, 2008
It’s déjà vu all over again for parents as the Department of Education reveals its latest round of school closures.
Last year, City Council members complained that the DOE announced school closures without first discussing them with community members. Like other parent advocates, council members argued that the DOE’s actions were in violation of the state’s education law, which requires the chancellor to “consult with the affected community district education council” before closing or substantially changing schools.
But despite the outcry, the district-wide community education councils aren’t any more in the loop this year.
“The CECs were notified the same day the staff was told” at each school, DOE spokeswoman Melody Meyer told me today.
For District 15′s CEC, at least, that notification came in the form of an e-mail yesterday afternoon, after the principal of PS 27 had already been told her school would be closing in June, according to the council’s president, Jennifer Stringfellow. (more…)