The DOE set the closing schools up for failure

Today, in justifying the eleven school closings, with more to come, Deputy Chancellor Marc Sternberg made the following statement: “Year after year, even as we provided extra help and support, these schools simply have not gotten the job done for children."

As the NY Post points out, the vast majority of these schools have poverty rates over the city average. And many of them were flooded with high-needs special education and ELL students in recent years, as nearby large high schools closed, and were provided with no extra help to deal with this problem.

Finally, what strategies if any did the city use to try to turn around these schools? Did they ever try systematically reducing class size? No.

Most of these students at these schools continue to suffer from overly large classes that far exceed the state average of twenty students per class, as well as the goals in the city’s mandated class size reduction plan. In fact, class sizes have risen sharply in most of the schools slated for closure.

For example, check out the increases in class size at Beach Channel High school, one of the schools on today’s list of closures, which have occurred despite a promise from the DOE to make specific reductions at this school in return for hundreds of millions of dollars in Contract For Excellence funds.

As Sternberg said, “…we cannot afford to let schools continue to fail students when we know we can do better.”

Most parents and teachers would agree. The Department of Education’s stubborn refusal to follow the law and to allow the students at these schools to have their best chance to succeed is unconscionable, and set up these schools for failure.
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