Closing poor-performing schools is no guarantee that students will get a better education at schools that replace them, say advocates who are calling upon the Bloomberg administration and Chancellor Dennis Walcott to "learn from the lessons of prior years" before instigating school closures.
In a statement on Monday, Advocates for Children pointed out that 10 of the 25 schools now slated for closure or downsizing have opened since Michael Bloomberg became mayor and were meant to provide better alternatives than schools that were shut for poor performance. In a public meeting on school choice last week, Walcott defended the city's record of opening "quality schools". He said the administration has phased out 117 schools and opened 535 new ones.
But the "replacement schools are not always better schools," according to Advocates for Children (AFC), and do not always accept the same population of students. New small schools frequently do not serve a high percentage of homeless students, those with special needs or students learning to speak English, according to a 2009 AFC report. That means that "disproportionate numbers" of needy students are assigned to schools ill-prepared to handle the influx. Many of those schools then become at risk of closure for poor performance.
Advocates for Children urged the DOE to treat school communities "as real partners in developing solutions" rather than "legal hurdles that need to be managed." Read the the statement here.
The Panel for Educational Policy will vote on many of the closures at its February 9 meeting at Brooklyn Tech.