Bloomberg's Small Schools Legacy

Thursday, May 30, 2013

A key component of Mayor Bloomberg's education policy has been to break up big high schools into smaller more focused schools, housed together in the large buildings. Beth Fertig, contributing editor for education, WNYC Radio and, talks about one specific example and the overall policy, plus other education news.


Beth Fertig

Comments [6]

teriscovkya from New York City

I moved more than 3,000 miles in 2004 to be part of New York City's small school shift. Now? I am deeply embarrassed at the amount of money and resources pumped into a plan that has proven utterly disappointing. These schools had incredible amounts of money dumped on them and as each year passed, the funds shriveled. Our school has no arts, no honors, no AP, no real electives--none of the programs that can make our smart, talented and capable students competitive with students who come from schools with a full curriculum, like the specialized schools. We won awards, we had news coverage--we even had a student win the coveted Annenberg. Now, we are penalized for what we can't do but we lack the funds to do what is needed. I can't help but think that the title 1 schools in this system become the sacrificial lambs when money gets tight. A specialized school would never lose art classes or foreign language or AP--those kids are college bound. Our students get forced out of the system without even getting a chance. Do teachers at the specialized schools pay for books? Staples? Paper? I bet they don't. The inequity within this school district is unbelievable and humiliating. The fact that I work 70 hours a week for students who do not get the same opportunities as those a couple miles south is beyond frustrating. It is because of this that I quit the DOE and will leave the city at the end of this school year. My heart aches that I am leaving the students, but I can not work in this system. Large schools with smaller classes would have been a smarter route before this massive and expensive gutting began.

May. 30 2013 07:54 PM

@Chip - Large schools do well when they are well resourced AND they have motivated, involved students and teachers. Realize that all the specialized high schools in NYC (Stuyvesant, Brooklyn Tech, Bronx Science, etc.) are all very large high schools. I also attended a large public NYC high school (Murry Bergtraum) and my experience there helped me get through college and land a job.

Large schools do a good job but the decline of these schools is a bit more complicated. Some large schools were horrible and should've been closed long ago - this was the situation in the Bronx. But many large good schools went bad once Bloomberg's education policies were put in place. Why? Because many of the new smaller schools only accept the brightest students. These top students used to go to larger schools. Many of the smaller schools that were created from closed large schools take the cream of the crop while remaining large schools were forced to take poorer performing students.

May. 30 2013 12:01 PM
Daniel from The Bronx

My brother and I graduted from Christopher Columbus High School in the 80's. We had instructors who in inspired us and gave us 110%. For instance, teachers stayed after class in the computer lab and performing arts. I am now a skilled computer professional and a College professor.

It is understood by the teachers and the union that closing large schools is a back door way of eliminating experienced teachers and undermining the union.

When the large school is "closed" and immediately reorganized in the same building, teachers lose their seniority and tenure. What remains are the less experienced teachers.

May. 30 2013 11:51 AM
Amy from Manhattan

Wow, the education reporter "wasn't allowed" outside the Columbus corridor? So much for freedom of the press! Reminds me of Mayor Bloomberg's "free speech zones" during the Republican convention (although, to be fair, I have no idea if the restrictions on Ms. Fertig's access originated w/the mayor).

May. 30 2013 11:27 AM
Cynthia from East Harlem

So it doesn't matter what type or level of college just that they get to a college. I remember we always had a safety, a mid level and a stretch but if you can't even take courses that will have the stretch even look at you then you have limited their choices and it seems that those in lower economic levels (who are already "limited" because they are not as familiar with the system) are most effected. Meanwhile when you go out towards the midwest school merge to get the size needed to be able to offer MORE classes.

I think its a big smoke screen and a fancy way to pass the buck.


May. 30 2013 11:20 AM

With a due respect. If the large schools were doing such a great job, the parents would not have trasferred their kids out into the smaller schools. The implication is that we should be allocating more resources to schools which the parents themselves believe are not serving their kids. It makes no sense. Just like any failing business, these schools need to make cuts or eventually go out of business entirely.

May. 30 2013 11:19 AM

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