After ten years of mayoral control of its public schools, New York City has only one strategy to “reform” the schools: Closing existing schools and replacing them with many new small schools.
You would think that after ten years with one person in charge, holding the unlimited power to do whatever he wants, the schools would now all be successful–that is, if he actually had a good idea about how to improve the schools.
But no, the game of closing schools continues, meaning that every year a new group of schools will be single out for a shutdown. As readers of this blog know, the New York City Department of Education (i.e., Mayor Bloomberg) decided to shut down 33 schools this year. When powerful politicians in Queens complained loudly, the closing list dropped from 33 to 24. When the city realized that it could scoop up about $40 million in federal funds by calling the schools “turnarounds,” rather than just closing them outright, the 24 became “turnaround” schools, in which at least half the staff was fired.
But an independent arbitrator ruled that the “turnaround” plan violated the teachers’ union contract, so everyone who was just fired got reinstated, unless they decided to take whatever job they had lined up in the meanwhile. At last writing, Mayor Bloomberg was steamed that he lost “binding” arbitration and announced his intention to sue to overturn the arbitrator’s ruling, which apparently is only “binding” if it goes the way the Mayor wanted it to go.
So here is an additional twist to this story.
The city’s dependence on closing schools and opening schools relies heavily on one study, which said that the city’s small high schools had a higher graduation rate. The brilliant Gary Rubinstein decided to take a closer look at this study and found it to be flawed. How sad that so many lives of students, teachers and administrators have been disrupted, how many careers ruined, how many communities fragmented, based on a theory that lacks evidence.
How sad too that this path of destruction and ruin is considered “reform.” No, not reform. Destruction, chaos, upheaval. And not in the best interests of students.