Archives for category: NYC

A high school for at-risk students in Manhattan, now located in a beautiful state-of-the-art facility, will be relocated to make room for Eva Moskowitz’s charter empire to grow.

The students at Innovation Diploma Plus high school will be relocated to a 90-year-old school with no science labs or gym.

Success Academy recently raised its management fee to $2,000 per student. It has a wealthy and powerful board of directors. The city gives the charter chain free space in public school buildings wherever it wants, despite community protests. Success academy (formerly known as Harlem Success Academy) has recently expanded into middle-class and gentrifying neighborhoods, like affluent District 2 in Manhattan , Cobble Hill and Williamsburg in Brooklyn, and the Upper West Side of Manhattan.

The Bloomberg administration continues its path of closing schools rather than helping them.

Read more here on the New York City parent blog.

Only 13 years ago, DeWitt Clinton High School was rated one of the best in the nation. It was once an honored school, home to great teachers and students.

But now, going into the 11th year of mayoral control, it is overcrowded and on the chopping block.

The Bloomberg administration’s Department of Education demonstrates yet again that it has no idea how to improve schools. It just demolishes them.

In time, the small schools that replace DeWitt Clinton will also close.

And then?

One regular reader gets very annoyed when he sees the local media telling fibs.

He is a truth squad all by himself.

One of the favorite fibs is that charters get better results with exactly the same kinds of students.

That is what the NY Daily News wrote today.

Here is what constant reader wrote in response:

It has finally happened! Education reformers have reached the heights of absurdity in their defense of charter schools. Discussing changes in two New York City school districts, an editorial in today’s New York Daily News attacks non-charter schools claiming that “schools in the districts have defied reform, thanks in large part to an entrenched system — solidified by the teachers contract — that denies principals the power that charter leaders have to demand excellence from their instructors” and that the charter schools in those districts succeed while
“serving the same cohort of neighborhood children.”

Of course this is an empirical claim that can be checked. So I checked it, using the publicly available information on the Department of Education’s website

Do the charter schools in these two districts serve “the same cohort of neighborhood children?”

They do not!

The charter schools in the districts serve fewer special education students (especially those with the highest needs), fewer English Language Learners, fewer poor students, fewer students with incoming scores that are in the lowest third citywide for both English and Math, and accept students with higher incoming test scores.

Why does the Daily News feel comfortable telling such a lie? It seems that the media is so caught up in the education reform story that they are willing to bend the truth to support the narrative that public schools are bad and charters are good.

But what is the truth? These numbers suggest that the charter schools are not doing a better job than non-charter public schools with the same students. They don’t educate students who most need the help and support of top-notch teachers. As long as education reformers are willing to spread such lies we will never be able to give all students the excellent education they deserve.

Let’s let the true numbers tell the story:

District 7 non-charter public schools
Special education students: 27.7%
Highest need special education students: 11.9%
Economic need index: .93
English Language Learners: 21.5%
Incoming student Math/English scores: 2.83
Incoming students who scored in the lowest third citywide in English: 52.4%
Incoming students who score in the lowest third citywide in Math: 53.6%

District 7 charter schools
Special education students: 12%
Highest need special education students: 2.3%
Economic need index: .78
English Language Learners: 12.6%
Incoming student Math/English scores: 3.08
Incoming students who scored in the lowest third citywide in English: 34.7%
Incoming students who score in the lowest third citywide in Math: 31.5%

District 23 non-charter public schools
Special education students: 18.8%
Highest need special education students: 11.9 %
Economic need index: .86
English Language Learners 4.8%:
Incoming student Math/English scores: 2.92
Incoming students who scored in the lowest third citywide in English: 43.7%
Incoming students who score in the lowest third citywide in Math: 51.8%

District 23 charter schools
Special education students: 14.1%
Highest need special education students: 7.0%
Economic need index: .65
English Language Learners: 2.4%
Incoming student Math/English scores 3.18:
Incoming students who scored in the lowest third citywide in English: 26.9%
Incoming students who score in the lowest third citywide in Math: 20.6%

dianerav | December 3, 2012 at 10:54 pm | Categories: Charter Schools, NYC | URL:

In the just concluded trial about vouchers in Louisiana, a state education department official said that a student with a voucher is a public school student, no matter what school she attends. The judge could not follow the logic. He ruled that the state could not take funds away from public schools to pay for vouchers.

Leonie Haimson of Class Size Matters in New York City noticed that charter advocates pull the same trick, with the same logic. They change their rationale to fit the need of the moment.

At first, the charters were to save minority kids from failing schools. But now they are moving into relatively affluent areas in New York City where schools are not failing.

She writes, referring to the gentrified portions of districts 2, 3 and 15:

“The reason DOE is putting charter elementary schools in high schools in D2, the lower part of D3 and in the Cobble Hill section of D15 is that their public elementary schools are already so overcrowded so that there is NO space for them, even by DOE standards.”

“The charter school lobby first explained the rationale for their schools as based on providing more “options” to students in low-performing districts, then moved on to justifying them by saying they would create more “diverse” schools in mixed or gentrifying areas, and also now argue that they create more options for middle class parents who are potentially shut out of their zoned schools because of overcrowding, that there are waiting lists for Kindergarten.”

“The rationales keep expanding….”

Gary Rubinstein has produced a stunning analysis of New York City’s high school report cards, its so-called progress reports.

He asks: “Why does the ‘worst’ NYC high school have higher SAT scores than the ‘best’ one?”

This is what Gary found: the SAT scores of the city’s highest-rated high school are lower than those of its lowest-rated school.

Read that again.

Maybe you don’t think much of SAT scores. But then look at those report cards again, and you will see some very unimpressive high schools–by any measure–ranked far above the city’s top high schools.

What a fraud these report cards are.

If you believe, as I do, that standardized testing is now being misused and overused, you will be shocked to read about New York City’s latest plan to ration admission to programs for gifted 4-year-olds.

If you wanted to satirize the misuse of testing, you would come up with a plan like the one in NYC. Little children will take a test, be rank ordered, and only those who score 90% or higher are sure to win a coveted seat. Sorry, an 89% won’t make it.

When you read the editorial linked here, you may momentarily wonder if you stepped through the looking glass and into the bizarro world of testing gone mad..

Anxious parents are paying for test prep and tutoring for 3-year-olds to get ready for the big test. Children who should be playing and romping in the park are under pressure to get the right answer.

The New York Daily News usually lauds everything that comes out of the NYC DOE because of its fealty to Mayor Bloomberg, but this latest plan was too far-fetched even for the mayor’s most fervent advocates:

The News wrote:

“Preposterously, this method tries to make a superexact measurement out of completely nonscientific evaluation. Worse, consider this example:
“Sally and Billy are both 4, but Sally is one day older than Billy. They take the test on the same day. “Both get 28 questions right out of 30. Both wind up in the 99th percentile.
“But, because he is ever so slightly younger than Sally, Billy is viewed as more advanced. He gets a higher composite than Sally, and he beats her out.”

Murray Bergtraum High School is literally within view of City Hall in New York City. Just cross a busy intersection and there it is.

It used to be a good school with a good reputation. Sitting in the center of New York City’s financial and governmental activity, it prepared young people for business careers.

No longer. The Bloomberg administration has a policy of preferring small high schools and charter schools. It’s policy for large high schools is, at best, benign neglect, but more often, dumping ground.

Bergtraum became a dumping ground for students who couldn’t go anywhere else. In ten years of Bloomberg-Klein reforms, it went from a good school to a holding pen.

Since NYC’s miraculous test score gains collapsed in 2010, you don’t hear much boasting about the scores.

But you will hear boasting about the graduation rate. You don’t hear much about the credit recovery programs on which the grad rate data rest.

But when you think of Bloomberg and Klein and Eric Nadelstern (quoted in the article), remember Bergtraum.

Marc Epstein, a veteran New York City teacher, describes a common phenomenon: the proliferation of junk food, which contributes to child obesity.

He recalls his own student days, when teachers absolutely prohibited chewing gum and snacks in the classroom.

In today’s schools, junk food is everywhere.

It’s bad for students, bad for discipline, and indicative of a society that refuses to set appropriate limits, allowing children to engage in harmful behaviors.

Juan Gonzalez of the New York Daily News doesn’t usually write about education, but when he does, he hits it out of the park.

In this article, he interviews parents who can’t understand why their neighborhood school is being closed–again. It was closed and renamed in 2008, now it will be closed and renamed again.

The mayor wants to close 36 schools this year. After a full decade of mayoral control, with no one to say no to whatever the mayor wanted, there is another crop of failing schools. And next year there will be more and the year after that one. Despite all the reforms, failure never ends.

Mayor Bloomberg likes to close neighborhood schools. He likes putting kids on buses or in the subway to attend a school far from their community. He doesn’t seem to have any sense of the value of neighborhood or community. Maybe that’s because he has houses in so many different cities that community means nothing to him.

But as this article shows, it matters to parents and families. They care about stability. They don’t like turmoil. Chaos is not good for children.

And here’s the most startling fact of all: Most of the new schools opened by Mayor Bloomberg are doing worse than the “failing” schools they replaced.

Schools close, schools open, schools close. What part of this is good for children? What part produces better education?

Correct answer: none, nada, nyet.

After the hurricane, Mayor Bloomberg was eager to reopen the city’s public schools as soon as possible for the 1.1 million children enrolled. He worried that they were “losing time” and had to get back to their studies, back to normal. The facts that many of the schools suffered damage, that many were turned into shelters, and that many children were in shock because of their experiences were irrelevant. It was back to the routine.

In this brilliant post, Rabbi Andy Bachman of Congregation Beth Elohim in Park Slope, Brooklyn, has a better idea. He envisions classes across the city studying climate change, learning civics lessons, and engaged in public service to those in need.

This is what teachers call “a teachable moment.” But NYC rejects the moment and opts for normalcy, not fresh thinking. Such thinking and the activities it might inspire can’t be allowed to interfere with the real purpose of school, which these days is higher test scores.


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