Have school closings in NYC stopped for now?
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.