Nyc School Closings
Since 2002, under Mayor Bloomberg’s administration, close to 100 schools have been closed and twenty more New York City (NYC) school closures were announced in January of 2010. Sixteen elementary and middle schools have also been added to the list, bringing the total anticipated closures to 47. Many of these anticipated school closures are located in the poorer areas of the city. These closures have created a lot of anger and protests from parents and teachers, generating dozens of demonstrations throughout NYC. Each side has its own perspective of the issues.
- The Department of Education wants to replace large, poor performance schools with smaller schools, including charter schools. One of the concerns is many of these smaller schools do not have enough seating for new students. In addition, these schools may also lack the programs necessary for special needs students and the facilities to teach English Language Learners who have a legal right to an education.
- No plan or rationale has been released for the NYC closings. It is believed that low graduation rates and poor performances in other areas, especially the school’s performance ratings which are partly based on student scores on tests, are the reason for the choices. Both the N.A.A.C.P. and the Teacher’s Union filed a lawsuit to block the closing of the schools for poor performance. The lawsuit charges that the proper analysis has not been done on how the closings would affect the 13,000 students involved, especially those with special needs, and how it would cause the nearby schools to be overcrowded.
- Charter and smaller schools will select students with high performance to attend their school. These schools often have private funding, leaving the public schools to lose the funding they would have had for those students. In addition, removing the select students can also lessen the graduation rate for that school, making them a target for closure.
- Concern over the Panel for Education (PEP) policy being controlled by the Mayor. The PEP has thirteen members, of which eight have been appointed by the NYC Mayor. The Mayor also has the right to replace any members at will.
- The City is promoting the message that the teachers’ union is generating the majority of the opposition. Because the union is in contract negotiation with the City, the City feels that the Union's main concern is to save jobs and for political reasons. The teachers face 2500 layoffs if they don’t agree to lower their members’ raises from 4 percent to two percent or less.
- In March, 2010 the Judge Stopped NYC School Closures. State Supreme Court Judge Joan B. Lobis ruled that school officials ignored the proper procedures for closing the schools and had violated state education law. An impact statement on how it would affect the surrounding communities was also insufficient.
- The City posted its criteria for putting a school on a “watch list.” If a school receives three C’s consecutively, or just one D or F on their progress reports, or if their Quality Review was anything below a proficient rating it will be put on a “watch list.” Even though some schools met the criteria they were not put on the “watch list.” Some of the reasons they did not make the list is because they were an elementary school whose state tests outperformed their district; high schools with a higher graduation rates than the city average; high marks on their Quality Review; and schools that were getting their first report card.
- In December, 2010 a list of 26 schools slated to be closed in NYC was released. These schools are to be phased out by the fall of 2011. The Union vowed to fight the closures.
- In January, 2011 hundreds of parents, students, educators, and community members gathered outside of the Department of Education’s headquarters in NYC in the freezing weather. Their protest was to stop school closings, stop charter schools from taking over, defend public education and stop privatization of the schools. “The Cycle,” a flyer from the Grassroots Education Movement was handed out at the gathering.