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Posted by madfloridian in General Discussion (1/22-2007 thru 12/14/2010)
Tue Feb 02nd 2010, 07:50 PM
One time education reformer and now outspoken opponent, Diane Ravitch, finds it odd that those in charge of schools are not ashamed that they failed to fix them instead of closing them. I agree.

Last week, the New York City Department of Education pushed through a decision to close 19 high schools. With the encouragement of the "Race to the Top," we will surely see similar closings across the nation, hundreds or perhaps thousands of them. Entrepreneurs cheer when public schools close, as new space opens up for their ventures in philanthropy and profits.

It is odd that school leaders feel triumphant when they close schools, as though they were not responsible for them. They enjoy the role of executioner, shirking any responsibility for the schools in their care. Every time a school is closed, those at the top should hang their heads in shame for their inability or refusal to offer timely assistance. Instead they exult in the failure of schools that are entrusted to their stewardship.

Here is more from Ravitch's Education blog:

Closing schools solves nothing

She is referring to the 19 NYC schools that were closed, neighborhood schools that were long a part of the communities.

The mayor claims that he could not let students remain even one more day in a failing school, so he never wavered in his determination to close schools with low test scores and poor graduation rates. His Department of Education felt no obligation to provide the resources to change those numbers.

But let's look at those numbers. For the past several years, with the support of the Gates Foundation, the city closed nearly 100 schools and opened more than 350 small ones. As large schools closed, the new small schools (and charter schools) that replaced them did not take a fair share of high-needs students, which enabled them to have better results. So the remaining large schools have disproportionate numbers of children with high needs—those who are homeless, low-performing, immigrants, non-English-speaking, or with extreme disabilities. With each new round of closures, other large schools are set up to fail.

Among the schools closed were Columbus High School in the Bronx and Jamaica High School in Queens. These are schools that had been pillars of their communities for many years. Yet in both cases, the Department of Education had overloaded them with the most challenging students, stigmatized them as "failures" (which encouraged the flight of many students), and never supplied the support and resources they needed. The more they struggled, the more the DOE abandoned them and readied them for closure. In reality, they were victims of the DOE's own policies. Now their valuable space can be turned into small schools and handed over to charter operators.

..."This is a great and terrible charade. It is not about improving education or helping kids. It is about producing data to demonstrate that small schools are better than large ones and that charters are better than regular public schools. The destruction of neighborhood public schools is merely collateral damage, though it may also be a goal of free-market zealots. The neediest kids will continue to be pushed out and bounced around until they give up. And the data will get better and better until the day comes when the DOE runs out of large high schools to close.

Setting them up to fail. Just like relying on one test which all students are required to pass no matter what is setting schools up to fail.

She is correct when she says that Duncan's "Race to the Top encourages the shell games that are being played to the applause of politicians and foundations, but to the detriment of students and communities."

In many cases they are hurriedly closing schools that are accountable.

"Ignoring Accountability, but Closing Schools" anyway. From a NYC blog.

But let’s take a look at the EIS for just one of the schools that the DoE hopes to close. Let’s compare it to the standard. In the EIS for The School for Community Research and Learning (SCRL), the DoE writes:

“Under the DOE’s accountability framework, schools that receive an overall grade of D or F on the Progress Report….”

(SCRL received a C this year and has never had a D or F.)

…(or) schools receiving a C for three years in a row…

(SCRL has not had three C’s. Last year it received a B.)

…and a score below Proficient on the Quality Review are subject to school improvement measures. If no significant progress is made over time, … closure is possible.

(SCRL has a “Proficient” on its Quality Review. Here are a few of the many fine things the Reviewer had to say:

* The high expectations of teachers, students and parents are in evidence in all aspects of the work of the school.
* Students in greatest need of improvement receive valuable support from the teachers and other staff and make good progress in their achievement levels.
* There are good communication systems, which engage parents as partners in their children’s education.

Ravitch has a good point, especially when they are shutting down schools that have been accountable. It is a "great the terrible charade" being played out.

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