Dennis Walcott's first assignment as schools chancellor should be reversing the policy of shutting down struggling schools, said the teachers union and other groups yesterday. Leaders from the Urban Youth Collaborative, the Coalition for Educational Justice and the powerful United Federation of Teachers [and members of Make the Road New York] called on him to enact reforms to help bad schools make the grade.
"The change in leadership at the [Department of Education] gives the city a chance to fix the mistakes made in the past, including the DOE's habit of walking away from struggling schools rather than trying to fix them," said UFT President Michael Mulgrew. Mulgrew joined forces with students from the Urban Youth Collaborative, which released a report that outlined dangers of closing failing schools.
According to the study, many of the 33,000 students transferred to new schools after closures have either dropped out, failed to graduate or were thrown out. The report, which cites statistics available since 2000, also showed that the closed high schools had disproportionately high percentages of low-income students from minority communities.
It also said the schools had much larger populations of high-needs students such as English-language learners, special-ed students, overage students and others who enter high school below grade level.
"The morale of the students has been hit hard," said Nijel Hill, a senior at Paul Robeson HS in Brooklyn, which is slated for closure.
Since the November NYC elections, MRNY members have been hard at work setting the agenda for our next mayor, City Council and citywide elected officials.
We kicked off "Talking Transition" with a low-wage worker forum and our attorneys have been staffing a Single Stop clinic around the clock at the Transition tent.
Recently, our youth joined the Transitions conversation to bring education and police reform issues into the spotlight for the new elected officials. 17-year-old youth leader Cheyanne Smith was also profiled in the New York Times for her leadership to make NYC schools more respectful, safe, and dignified places for learning.