Archives for category: Closing schools

Blogger Chaz’s School Daze explains why the NYU study on the “success” of closing large high schools and replacing them with small high schools is bogus.

He writes:

“This week, NYU released a study showing that students fared better with the closing of the many large comprehensive high schools and replaced by the Bloomberg small schools. The basis for the study’s conclusion was the increased graduation rate from the small schools when compared to the closed schools. However, the study is fatally flawed since the graduation rate is a bogus parameter and easily manipulated by the school Principal to allow students to graduate academically unprepared for college and career. Let’s look at how schools manipulate the graduation rate.”

I posted Leonie Haimson’s critique of this Gates-funded study, which relied on the views and insights of those in charge of designing and implementing the policy in the NYC Department of Education.

Chaz points out that the study ignored the pressure on teachers in the new small schools to pass students; the pressure on principals to raise graduation rates; and the widespread use of fraudulent “credit recovery” to hand diplomas to low-performing students.

The data on graduation rates are made meaningless by these corrupt practices. The researchers did not see fit to examine nefarious ways of graduating students who were unprepared for college or careers.

Chaz points out that educators in Atlanta went to jail and lost their licenses for changing grades. Why was there no investigation or prosecution of equally serious actions in Néw York City?


Leonie Haimson is a fearless advocate for students, parents, and public schools. She runs a small but mighty organization called Class Size Matters (I am one of its six board members), she led the fight for student privacy that killed inBloom (the Gates’ data mining agency), and she is a board member of the Network for Public Education. None of these are paid positions. Passion beats profits.


In this post on the New York City parent blog, she takes a close look at a new report that lauds the Bloomberg policy of closing public schools as a “reform” strategy. The report was prepared by the Research Alliance at New York University, which was launched with the full cooperation of the by the New York City Department of Education during the Bloomberg years (Joel Klein was a member of its board when it started).


Haimson takes strong exception to the report’s central finding–that closing schools is good for students–and she cites a study conducted by the New School for Social Research that reached a different conclusion. (All links are in the post.)


Furthermore, she follows the money–who paid for the study: Gates and Ford, then Carnegie. Gates, of course, put many millions into the small schools strategy, and Carnegie employs the leader of the small schools strategy.


Haimson writes:


“The Research Alliance was founded with $3 million in Gates Foundation funds and is maintained with Carnegie Corporation funding, which help pay for this report. These two foundations promoted and helped subsidize the closing of large schools and their replacement with small schools; although the Gates Foundation has now renounced the efficacy of this policy. Michele Cahill, for many years the Vice President of the Carnegie Corporation, led this effort when she worked at DOE.


“The Research Alliance has also been staffed with an abundance of former DOE employees from the Bloomberg era. In the acknowledgements, the author of this new study, Jim Kemple, effusively thanks one such individual, Saskia Levy Thompson:


[He wrote:] ‘The author is especially grateful for the innumerable discussions with Saskia Levy Thompson about the broader context of high school reform in New York City over the past decade. Saskia’s extraordinary insights were drawn from her more than 15 years of work with the City’s schools as a practitioner at the Urban Assembly, a Research Fellow at MDRC, a Deputy Chancellor at the Department of Education and Deputy Director for the Research Alliance.’


Levy Thompson was Executive Director of the Urban Assembly, which supplied many of the small schools that replaced the large schools, leading to better outcomes according to this report — though one of these schools, the Urban Assembly for Civic Engagement, is now on the Renewal list.


After she left Urban Assembly, Levy Thompson joined MDRC as a “Research Fellow,” despite the fact that her LinkedIn profile indicates no relevant academic background or research skills. At MRDC, she “helped lead a study on the effectiveness of NYC’s small high schools,” confirming the efficacy of some of the very schools that she helped start. Here is the first of the controversial MRDC studies she co-authored in 2010, funded by the Gates Foundation, that unsurprisingly found improved outcomes at the small schools. Here is my critique of the follow-up MRDC report.


“In 2010, Levy Thompson left MRDC to head the DOE Portfolio Planning office, tasked with creating more small schools and finding space for them within existing buildings, which required that the large schools contract or better yet, close.


“And where is she now? Starting Oct. 5, Saskia Levy Thompson now runs the Carnegie Corporation’s Program for “New Designs for Schools and Systems,” under LaVerne Evans Srinivasan, another former DOE Deputy Chancellor from the Bloomberg era Here is the press release from Carnegie’s President, Vartan Gregorian:


“‘We are delighted that Saskia, who has played an important role in reforming America’s largest school system, is now joining the outstanding leader of Carnegie Corporation’s Education Program, LaVerne Evans Srinivasan, in overseeing our many investments in U.S. urban education.'”


Concludes Haimson:


“How cozy! In this way, a revolving door ensures that the very same DOE officials who helped close these schools continue to control the narrative, enabling them to fund — and even staff — the organizations that produce the reports that retroactively justify and help them perpetuate their policies.”



Esquire blogger Charles P. Pierce stands by his charge that Boston Mayor Marty Walsh had pulled a “full Scott Walker,” doing what he never acknowledged as a candidate.

The Mayor’s statement said, “The Mayor ‘has never said, nor does he have a plan to close 36 schools.’ The Mayor HAS said that he plans to ‘consolidate’ schools.”

Pierce responded:

“How can he consolidate schools if he does not close some?

“Oh, wait—if he leases some of the ‘consolidated’ school buildings to charter schools then the buildings will technically remain open. They just won’t be Boston Public Schools. Despite the expressed concerns of the Mayor’s office, the Blog post was sourced and linked to twelve relevant documents obtained in response to what Boston public school blogger Mary Lewis Pierce [no relation] described as a FOIA [Massachusetts Public Records Act] request.

“Among those records was an agenda for a meeting between the Boston Compact and Mayor Walsh and a Boston Compact talking points memo prepared for the Mayor in which the Mayor is scripted to announce and define Enroll Boston.

“Despite the claims of the Mayor’s office, the Blog post was neither untrue nor unsourced. However, the Blog is newly concerned by the reading comprehension levels of those entrusted with the education of Boston’s public school students.”

Reader FLERP answers the question of whether Mayor Walsh of Bostin will close public schools:

“Google tells me that Walsh announced that he would be closing schools in late September:

“Walsh acknowledged that it would be necessary to close some schools to “unlock more resources for every student. Access and equity is at the forefront of our concerns.”

“Walsh said nothing is decided, but he expects some schools will merge under the plan.

“It’s going to be controversial in some ways, but it’s going to be the right thing to do to make sure that our young people get the best education, in the best buildings, with the best principals and the best teachers in this city,” he said.

“So the issue isn’t whether Walsh intends to close schools. The issues are which, how many, and when.”

Boston Mayor Marty Walsh gave no indication in 2013 when he ran for office that he was a supporter of school privatization; his opponent John Connolly clearly was. Walsh accused Connolly–a charter school supporter of wanting to “blow up” the school system. Yet now Walsh is working closely with the Gates Foundation and the far-right, union-busting Walton Family Foundation to close 36 public schools and replace them with privately managed charter schools. In 2012, Boston was one of seven cities that signed a “Gates Compact,” agreeing to treat public schools and charter schools as equals. Boston received $3.25 million to sell out  public education to the Gates Foundation and the billionaire-backed charter movement.


If you live in or near Boston, show up for the meetings of the “Boston Compact” committee listed below. Don’t let them steal our democracy!



Blogger Public School Mama used the Freedom of Information Act to discover the sneaky backdoor deal that the mayor is hammering out with the billionaire boys to shutter 1/4 of Boston’s public schools.


She writes:


“This proposal is not being driven by the wishes of Mayor Walsh’s constituents. These plans are not being hammered out in open meetings where the citizens of Boston can hold policy makers accountable. These decisions are being made in closed meetings with the Gates Foundation and the Walton Foundation where Mayor Walsh is hoping to receive funding for his education agenda….


“I think everyone can agree that our education policy should be driven by the people of Boston and not outside foundations.


“On October the 14th, the unelected Boston School Committee voted unanimously to renew the Boston Compact.


“Here are the last Boston Compact meetings:


“Here are the last meetings:


“Thursday, November 12
6:30 – 9:00 pm
1st Church of Jamaica Plain


“Tuesday, November 17
5:30 – 8:00 pm
West End Boys and Girls Club”



The Foundation for Excellence in Education, the privatization/testing advocacy group founded by Jeb Bush, will hold its national summit in Denver on October 22-23.

Since Jeb stepped down to run for President, Condi Rice is the new leader. You may recall that she became an education expert in 2012 when she led a task force with Joel Klein that declared that American public schools are so dreadful that they are a threat to national security. The cure, they said, was charters, vouchers, and the Common Core.

Please note that if you are a blogger, you must submit samples of your work to prove you love corporate reform: charters, vouchers, school closings, high-stakes testing, merit pay, etc., or you will not be admitted.

The most newsworthy portion of the summit will be the session on “proven strategies” to improve student achievement. Since none of the corporate reform strategies have any evidence to support them, this will be a challenge for those hoping for proof, not ideological blather.

The latest press release:

From: “Foundation for Excellence in Education”

Sent: Thursday, October 8, 2015 10:21:15 AM
Subject: MEDIA ADVISORY: 2015 National Summit on Education Reform hosted by Dr. Condoleezza Rice

October 8, 2015 Contact: Press Office

MEDIA ADVISORY: 2015 National Summit on Education Reform hosted by Dr. Condoleezza Rice

On October 22-23, Dr. Condoleezza Rice, 66th U.S. Secretary of State and board chair of the Foundation for Excellence in Education (ExcelinEd) will host the organization’s eighth annual National Summit on Education Reform. Media registration is now open for media wishing to cover the two-day event. Credentials must be requested in advance of the start of the summit.

The nation’s premier annual education forum immerses policymakers in two days of in-depth discussions on proven and innovative strategies to improve student achievement.

The following event is OPEN PRESS:

2015 National Summit on Education Reform

Presented by the Foundation for Excellence in Education
October 22-23, 2015
Hyatt Regency Denver at Colorado Convention Center
650 15th Street
Denver, CO 80202


All members of the media, including bloggers, who plan to cover the Summit must be credentialed by the Foundation for Excellence in Education. All media must apply for advance credentials online via the Media Registration Form by Monday October 19 COB. Advance registration is strongly encouraged as space is limited and onsite registration may be subject to delays.

To apply for media credentials, please complete the Media Registration Form.

As the Foundation is sensitive to the need to make travel plans, notification of credential approval will be made via email within one week of receiving the requested information.

Specific credentialing requirements exist for freelance writers and bloggers. In addition to completing the online form, as soon as possible please email the following information to

Freelance Writers: Freelance writers wishing to cover the Summit must submit a letter of assignment or letter of intent from the media outlet being represented.

Bloggers: Bloggers wishing to receive credentials must have regular posts about education and policy issues, and other related news, and have a significant following. Proof of coverage may be provided in the following form: a URL to your site’s main page as well as a link to a bylined article posted within the last few months.


For planning purposes, media check-in will open on Thursday, October 22 and Friday, October 23 at 7:00 a.m. and continue throughout the day, both days of the conference.

Upon check-in at the event, approved media will be asked to present a current year news media credential in conjunction with a government-issued photo ID, such as a valid state driver’s license or passport. If a current year news media credential is not available, a valid business card in conjunction with a government-issued photo ID, such as a valid state driver’s license or passport, may be accepted.

Previous accreditation to Foundation for Excellence in Education events does not guarantee the issuance of media or blogger credentials for the 2015 National Summit on Education Reform.

The Foundation for Excellence in Education, in its sole discretion, reserves the right to withhold press credentials from members of the news media, limit the number of credentials assigned to any news organization and revoke credentials from members of the news media before or during the event for any reason. Acceptance of press credentials constitutes agreement by the bearer and his/her organization to abide by any terms set forth by the Foundation for Excellence in Education.


As in years past, media credentials must be worn at all times in order to gain access to designated press areas to cover the conference sessions.

The Media Filing center will be available to all credentialed media on a first come, first serve basis, during operating hours for the entirety of the two-day Summit. Other designated press areas will be accessible based on Summit agenda.


Members of the media are welcome to cover the conference, including keynote, general and strategy sessions from designated press areas. Participation in Q&A segments is reserved for registered attendees of the event.

A live feed of the general and keynote sessions will be available in the Media Filing Center. Additionally, there will be closed-circuit televisions and mult boxes for access to clean audio feeds of the general and keynote sessions.

Technical Details:

Complimentary internet access will be provided in the Media Filing Center and ballroom. Please note that this network will be available to all members of the media, which may cause a high volume of traffic at times.

A live webcast of the general and keynote sessions will also be available. Details are forthcoming. News organizations may live stream the Summit in its entirety, upload video content to websites and/or archive footage.

Agenda & Speakers:

The week of the Summit, a full itinerary of the conference events, as well as technical and logistical specifications for media, will be distributed to registered and confirmed media outlets and bloggers.

In the meantime, a complete list of speakers featured during the 2015 summit and a full agenda for the two-day event may be found at

Confirmed media will receive access to the official #EIE15 app accessible via smartphone or tablet, offering real-time updates on speakers, the agenda and strategy sessions.

Join the Conversation:

Follow #EIE15 and @ExcelinEd on Twitter for the latest news and updates regarding the 2015 Summit.

Special Requests:

Once approved, credentialed media may alert us of any special coverage needs or requests, including but not limited to the following topics, and we will do our best to accommodate:

If you would like to pre-arrange an interview with one of the speakers in advance of or during the Summit;
If you need to request private interview space for a specific and consolidated time period;

If you are interested in covering the event live, plan to park a satellite truck onsite and/or have questions regarding cable runs; and

If you are a network or cable and wish to attend the technical walk-through;
In some cases, specific deadlines apply. Space is limited.

Thank you for your interest in covering the Foundation for Excellence in Education’s eighth annual National Summit on Education Reform. We hope to see you in Denver.


For more information visit

The Foundation for Excellence in Education is transforming education for the 21st century economy by working with lawmakers, policymakers, educators and parents to advance education reform across America. ExcelinEd is a 501(c)(3) non-profit organization. In 2014, ExcelinEd received more than 85 percent of its operating revenue from private family foundations. Learn more at

P.O. Box 10691
Tallahassee, Florida

The Network for Public Education created a list of questions that journalists should ask the candidates. In this post on, I explained NPE’s agenda to improve our public schools and to repel the corporate assault on them.

K-12 education issues, of huge importance to the future of our nation, were almost completely ignored in 2012. They should not be overlooked in 2016 because the very existence of public education is under attack. Billionaires hope to privatize urban districts, then move into the suburbs and elsewhere.

For those of us who believe that public education is a public responsibility, the time to become active is now.

We oppose the status quo of testing and privatization. We seek far better schools, equitable and well-resourced, where creativity and imagination are prized, not test scores. We seek equality of educational opportunity, not competition for scarce dollars.

Please join the Network for Public Education and help us build a new vision of education for each child.

Jonas Persson of the Center for Media and Democracy’s PR Watch reports on a panel discussion in Néw Orleans about speeding up the dismantling of public education.

The event was a conference sponsored by the voucher-loving American Federation for Children, celebrating the privatization of Néw Orleans schools.

The panel Persson describes was called “Knocking out Yesterday’s Education Models” but a panelist “joked that the working title of the panel had been “What Happens After You Blow it All Up?”

Persson writes:

“But in the absence of a new hurricane that would sweep away public schools, a man-made calamity might do the trick. Such was the argument of Rebecca Sibilia, who is the CEO of a new non-profit education group: Edbuild.

“When you think of bankruptcy … this is a huge opportunity. Bankruptcy is not a problem for kids; bankruptcy is a problem for the people governing the system, right? So, when a school district goes bankrupt all of their legacy debt can be eliminated . . . How are we going to pay for the buildings? How are we going to bring in new operators when there is pension debt? Look, if we can eliminate that in an entire urban system, then we can throw all the cards up in the air, and redistribute everything with all new models. You’ve heard it first: bankruptcy might be the thing that leads to the next education revolution,” Sibilia explained.”

This has already happened in Chester Uplands, Pennsylvania, where the district’s exorbitant payments to charter schools has brought it to fiscal collapse, requiring a loan from the state to make payroll. It could happen in cities like Philadelphia and even Los Angeles, as the charter sector siphons away the best students and resources that cause the district to cut programs and lay off teachers.

At some point the tipping point comes, and the parasite sucks the life out of the host. That’s the reformers’ end game,

– See more at:

The Center for Media and Democracy has compiled a list of 2,500 charters that closed since 2000, either because of financial or academic problems.

This should dispel the myth that charter schools are superior institutions that “save” children.

Some of the schools closed before they opened, but their founders collected public money for “planning.”

Fred LeBrun is rapidly emerging as the most astute education writer in New York State. He writes for the Albany Times-Union so there is a good chance that the Governor’s staff and the legislative staff read what he writes. I hope so.

In this article, he skewers Cuomo’s plan to put struggling schools into “receivership.” That’ll fix them. Millions will be burned while the state ignores the root causes of low-performance in school: poverty. It seems that all the schools on the Governor’s list are in poor communities. Black and brown children will be Cuomo’s playthings, as teachers and principals and other staff are fired and new ones brought in, who will also be fired.

It is painful to read. You know that millions of dollars will be spent on consultants, and by the time the money is all gone, there will be more schools to hand over to Cuomo’s hedge fund buddies to turn into low-performing charters.

LeBrun writes:

While New York public education struggles to resolve an idiotic dependence on standardized tests, waiting in the wings is another poorly-thought-out plan threatening more harm than benefit: school receivership.

So far you haven’t heard a great deal about it because the dramatic consequences are a year off, but you will. And, unlike the statewide disgust over Gov. Andrew Cuomo’s testing obsession that affects every school district and has gotten a lot of press, the threat of receivership at the moment hangs over only 144 “struggling” schools — not districts — all of them among the state’s poorest. Of these, 20 are labeled by the state Education Department as “persistently struggling” because of the length of time they’ve been “struggling” and need to turn themselves around in just a year, or else. The rest have two years.

In the Capital Region, only Albany’s William S. Hackett Middle School is on the persistent list, but if a handful of schools in Albany, Troy, Schenectady and Amsterdam, including Albany High School, don’t show appropriate progress, they will join Hackett next year.

What happens now for schools like Hackett is as complicated as directions to Atlantis, and about as reliable.

Albany school Superintendent Marguerite Vanden Wyngaard becomes the acting school receiver, with broad powers, for the next year. A required community engagement team composed of the principal, staff, teachers, parents and even students from Hackett will forward recommendations for improvements to the superintendent, who will use them to help create her intervention plan to turn the school around. The plan is due at State Ed for approval by the end of this month. Over the next year, the community team will look over her shoulder as the intervention plan unfolds.

In the meantime, the school receiver can do pretty much what she wants (with approval from State Ed): change the curriculum, replace teachers and administrators, increase salaries, reallocate the budget, expand the school day or year, turn Hackett into a community school, even convert to a charter school. Although there’s enormous rigmarole attached to much of it, including going charter. Remember, the receiver in this case remains the superintendent for the rest of the district, so she is answerable for any wild and crazy ideas to the voters through the school board.

Anyway, to help start the process, Vanden Wyngaard can apply for a grant from a $75 million pot set up by the state, although she’ll have plenty of competition from other “persistently struggling” school receivers in Syracuse, Rochester, Buffalo, Yonkers, New York City and elsewhere. She has a year to do her turnaround. Or the hammer falls and we are off to Neverland.

Then the state would appoint an independent receiver who is answerable only to State Ed. At which time the process of community involvement, an intervention plan, and the rest are repeated, only now change is apt to be far more radical, with wholesale staff firings. An independent receiver can be a person from an approved list that doesn’t yet exist, or an institution or charter school. Although charter schools upstate have been mostly a bust, as Albany well knows. Middle school charters in Albany could not save themselves, let alone others.

So. If you’re getting the idea that this receivership idea seems like a plan designed to fail and thus prepare the way for school privatizers to make a bundle, move over.

For one thing, the state has yet to give school receivers a clear idea of what would constitute appropriate progress to avoid an independent receiver. Presumably, we’ll know by the end of the month when intervention plans have to be approved. What is expected and how reasonable it is will answer a great deal.

Because just a year to show any marked improvement on any front for a school like Hackett, no matter how thoughtfully considered, broadly accepted by the community, or earnestly pursued, is absurd. Real change needs time for all stakeholders to become invested. Teachers at Hackett today are still complaining that attendance and discipline as major problems, just as it was when I substituted there, oh, a half century ago. These are, after all, manifestations of the poverty and despair underlying most of Hackett’s problems; they don’t go away. They are the community’s problems, not just Hackett’s.

And for any turnaround plan to stand a chance of success, it will need tons of money and sustained financing for years. Curiously, while the law creating school receiverships is rich in the detail of who can be fired and not rehired, on punitive measures, and what extraordinary powers a receiver may exercise, it does not specify who will pay for an independent receiver.

Keeping in mind, always, that the state has an abysmal record in meeting its education commitments. At the moment, the state owes New York City more than $2 billion in aid; Albany more than $37 million; Schenectady nearly $60 million.

So there you have it. A boondoggle in the making. Cuomo forced us to accept a mandate of an independent receiver for certain schools labeled struggling by his cohorts at State Ed, but so far there isn’t a hint of state money to pay for it. Can you imagine what that burden will do for school budgets like Albany’s?

Oh, and it gets better. Amusingly, the concept of “struggling” public schools is defined by the educational establishment as the bottom 5 percent of all state schools based on a host of criteria. Which means no matter how much struggling schools improve, there will always be 5 percent at the bottom who potentially need a receiver.

What a surprise. • 518-454-5453


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