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Have school closings in NYC stopped for now?

July 21, 2015 am31 11:29 am

One expectation that we had for de Blasio / Fariña was that school closings would stop. Has this happened?

Sort of. And now much of those decisions are out of their hands. So much so that I left it off my Mayor/Chancellor expectations list.

Bloomberg/Klein/Black/Walcott willfully closed dozens of high schools. I do not know the count, but 50 in all? Is that about right? More? They targeted bigger schools. These schools, whether incidentally, or intentionally, had larger concentrations of veteran teachers. And veteran teachers these days also means more Black and Hispanic teachers. They were mostly places where institutional memory and habit respected much of the language and spirit of the contract.

They also targeted elementary schools and middle schools for replacement by charters. That’s scores more.

Each closure dumped teachers into the ATR pool – dozens and dozens of veteran teachers who face systematic, mandated discrimination.

So new regime in, the annual PEP circus with large numbers of closures at once is over. Though the old regime already shut the biggest targets. And…

1. We are still watching the tail end of phase outs.

2. This year, under NYS pressure two Renewal schools dumped over half their staff (Boys and Girls HS and Automotive HS) – though with a promise of annual (non-permanent) placement for the next few years.

3. Now New York State (Cuomo/Tisch) is now going over the City’s head. They have targeted seven schools (five in the Bronx) for takeover next year. They have targeted an additional 55 schools (27 in the Bronx) for takeover the year after that.

Think of it this way: the Bloomberg closures also came with new schools opening. While many were charter schools, most were NYCDoE schools – so at least the number of teachers entering the ATR pool was near the number of new openings. These Cuomo closings are directly removing the schools from the DoE – those positions will be entirely lost.

This is nothing less than an attempt to break the job security provision of our contract. It is “disruptive innovation” – intentionally creating educational chaos for our schools, teachers, students, communities.

So, did de Blasio / Fariña do ok on school closures? They haven’t aggressively closed schools. But we barely got a break, between lagging phase-outs, the “Renewal” process, and Cuomo’s ill-intentions for next year, and the years after that.

I guess we could ask the mayor and chancellor to more aggressively oppose Cuomo. But what we really need is a real fightback against Cuomo and Tisch, to overturn the horrible changes to State Law, including these state-forced closures, but going back to basing teacher evaluations on test scores. We need our union, the UFT and NYSUT, to mobilize our members, both through demonstrations, and at the ballot box. But this requires some serious change of policy and practice.

8 Comments leave one →
  1. Arthur Goldstein permalink
    July 21, 2015 pm31 12:13 pm 12:13 pm

    While I can’t fault your request, while I think it makes sense, it will be tough to accommodate. For one thing, UFT leadership is never wrong and never acknowledges errors, even when it contradicts itself. Mulgrew, in fact, thanked the Heavy Heart Democrats for enabling this. He said we’d had an amazing victory via the Twitter campaign in which he himself did not participate.

    Personally, I think it would have been smarter to oppose Cuomo, you know, when he was actually running for office, something the current NYSUT officers promised in writing but absolutely failed to deliver.

    But I too would love to see a new direction.

  2. Atlas O'Rourke permalink
    July 21, 2015 pm31 12:25 pm 12:25 pm

    If those schools are closed and they probably will be, the teachers set loose wouldn’t be hired, regardless of whether the school was on or off the DOE grid. Receivership in other states has meant those teachers would lose their jobs, because LIFO protections wouldn’t apply. Does this apply for NYC? I don’t think so, but I’m not sure. It seems like a possibility that can be sprung at the last moment. Something very apropos for our beloved Gov. Cuomo.

    • Arthur Goldstein permalink
      July 21, 2015 pm31 12:49 pm 12:49 pm

      I don’t know about the other schools, but the teachers who jumped ship on the first two were guaranteed jobs rather than being dumped into the ATR. It seems to me they made a good decision.

      • Atlas O'Rourke permalink
        July 21, 2015 pm31 1:03 pm 1:03 pm

        They’re placed provisionally for 1 year at a time – a new form of ATR hell, not a permanent position. These new schools under the gun may do the same thing, as a best case scenario.

        • Arthur Goldstein permalink
          July 21, 2015 pm31 2:54 pm 2:54 pm

          I’d argue it’s the old form of ATR hell, but that it beats week to week. Personally, I’d choose it over being subject to receivership.

  3. Arthur Goldstein permalink
    July 21, 2015 pm31 2:55 pm 2:55 pm

    I should’ve said risk of receivership.

    • Atlas O'Rourke permalink
      July 21, 2015 pm31 3:35 pm 3:35 pm

      Yes, I agree. Old form or new, it’s hell, but it sometimes seems like we all have our personal piece of it no matter where we find ourselves.

  4. July 21, 2015 pm31 10:23 pm 10:23 pm

    A one year placement beats the hell out of a weekly rotation – but it’s still not an appointment.

    I am not certain that the word “receivership” has an iron definition that means the same thing everywhere. In fact, I am fairly certain that Cuomo/Tisch are aiming for teachers to get fired, but that there are no provisions for layoffs. I think the bigger question will be whether teachers who stay at the Tisch Takeover schools lose their contract.

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