School closures prove painful
CYRIL JOSH BARKER Amsterdam News Staff | 5/30/2013, 2:03 p.m.
Students of color are suffering the worst when it come to public schools. Thirty-six percent of Latino students and 37 percent of Black students are graduating in four years with a Regents diploma with 28 percent of young Black males not earning one at all.
With these discouraging statistics, many wonder why the Department of Education (DOE) would think of closing more schools.
The city is seeing its first round of school closures of the year since the Panel for Education Policy (PEP) voted to close 22 schools last month and gave the green light to start co-locating schools.This round of closings would make 150 schools that have closed under Michael Bloomberg's mayoral control of city public schools.
PEP also approved the expansion of co-locating at nearly 40 schools. Co-locating would place charter schools in existing public schools. The tactic has been highly criticized by groups like the NAACP and the United Federation of Teachers for giving better resources to some students and not others.
The DOE placed the schools on the list due to "low-performance." Twenty schools will be phased out over several years while M.S. 45/STARS Prep Academy in Manhattan and Freedom Academy High School in Brooklyn will close by the end of the school year.
The 20 schools that will be phased out include the Choir Academy of Harlem, the Bread & Roses Integrated Arts High School, Jonathan Levin High School for Media and Communications and M.S. 142 John Philip Sousa in the Bronx, and P.S. 073 Thomas S. Boyland and General D. Chappie James Middle School of Science in Brooklyn.
Schools Chancellor Dennis Walcott said, "We have a proven track record of those schools that have been poor-performing schools, replacing them with schools that perform at a high level. There are some schools we've even put in place that are not performing to our level of satisfaction and we phase them out as well.We try to make sure we focus on the school, proving the supports, and when those supports don't work, [we make] a decision that is difficult for families and teachers and principals, to accept the time, to phase them out."
During last month's PEP meeting, only three members of the panel, which is appointed by the mayor, voted down on closing and relocating the schools.
"For more than a decade, Mayor Bloomberg has prioritized closing schools over improving them," said mayoral candidate William C. Thompson Jr. "The policy continues to fail New York's students, and it must end now. When I'm mayor, I will never give up on our schools and neighborhoods. Schools must be improved so children in every single community have an opportunity to get a great education."
Numbers indicate that nearly 80 percent of graduates are unprepared for college. In schools in some of the city's low-income neighborhoods, less than a quarter of students are on the proper grade level when it comes to reading, writing and math.