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WNYC News

City Forges Ahead on Eliminating Teachers at 33 Schools

Monday, January 30, 2012

Mayor Michael Bloomberg says the city is moving ahead with plans to close and reopen 33 struggling schools even though it means replacing about half their teachers or, according to some, he's proceeding because it means replacing half the teaching staff.

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WNYC News

Aspire Prep Says It Should Not Be Closed Based on One Bad Year

Wednesday, January 25, 2012


To hear its principal, Steven Cobb, tell the story, <a href="http://www.nytimes.com/schoolbook/school/587-aspire-preparatory-middle-school">Aspire Preparatory Middle School </a>experienced the perfect storm in the fall of 2010. The state made its annual math and reading tests harder to pass that year and, like most schools, Aspire did poorly. 
Then, just as the school was adjusting to meet the tougher standards, the staff was hammered, Mr. Cobb said. Eight of his 34 teachers were out sick for extended periods during the last school year. 
"I had a teacher that went out on maternity leave for seven months," he explained. "A teacher who was hospitalized for six months. Teachers with legitimate medical issues that were out for over 100 days."
In a small school with about 500 students, Mr. Cobb said having almost a quarter of his staff chronically absent was devastating. Christopher Joanis taught seventh grade last year and recalled the revolving door of substitutes.
"I was actually next door to two classes that were manned by substitutes. I would stand out, many times, having to manage that. Kids would be sent to my room if they were a little out of control in the other classes," he said.
Meanwhile, instead of immersing themselves in new strategies -- as they had planned over the summer -- teachers said they had to help the substitutes with basic lessons. As a result, when the kids were tested last spring, less than a quarter of them passed the English Language arts exam.
With those low scores, Mr. Cobb says he fully expected the F he received on his latest report card. But he didn't expect that would put him on the list of 19 schools that Department of Education officials have recommended be phased out. 
Mr. Cobb made all of those points during a public hearing Monday night on the school's fate. About 150 parents, teachers and students filled the school's auditorium and loudly cheered for the principal. 
Grace Lovaghio, a vice president of the local Community Education Council for District 11, asked, "Why bring in another school? Why not bring those resources to Aspire?"
Deputy Chancellor Kathleen Grimm took notes throughout the hearing. She told the audience that Aspire was on the state’s list of <a href="http://www.p12.nysed.gov/irs/accountability/LowAchieve/2011/PersistentlyDangerous2011List.pdf">Persistently Dangerous Schools</a>. She also said its low scores put it within the bottom 10 percent of all city middle schools. 
Asked later if last year could have been a fluke because of the absent teachers, Ms. Grimm held firm.
"This is a big system," she said. "Could I find another school that had similar problems last year and the children did O.K.? I probably could."
If anything, until 2010 Aspire was considered the solution to persistent failure. It’s one of three small schools, along with <a href="http://www.nytimes.com/schoolbook/school/588-bronx-green-middle-school">Bronx Green</a> and <a href="http://">Pelham Preparatory Academy</a>, that replaced Whelan middle school in the Northeast Bronx. 
All three schools have higher test scores than the school they replaced. Aspire earned Bs from the city until its grade fell to a C in 2010 when the state made its exams harder to pass.
This year, Mr. Cobb said his staff is already turning around the school. Nobody’s been ill. Student attendance is up. And teachers said they are now immersed in a new curriculum that gives students 20 percent more time for math and English Language Arts. 
The Panel for Educational Policy is expected to approve the city's recommendations to close the 19 schools at its Feb. 9 meeting.

To hear its principal, Steven Cobb, tell the story, Aspire Preparatory Middle School experienced the perfect storm in the fall of 2010. The state made its annual math and reading tests harder to pass that year and, like most schools, Aspire did poorly. Then, just as the school was adjusting to meet the tougher standards, the staff was hammered, Mr. Cobb said. Eight of his 34 teachers were out sick for extended periods during the last school year. 

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WNYC News

Cypress Hills Students Say "Give Us Time"

Tuesday, November 22, 2011

Cypress Hills College Prep is one of four small schools inside the campus of Franklin K. Lane, a large failing high that is being phased out gradually by the city. But the prep school created under the Bloomberg administration is now on a list of struggling schools the city may opt to phase out starting next fall.

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WNYC News

Brownsville Parents Urge Chancellor Not to Close Their Schools

Wednesday, November 02, 2011

With fresh concerns that the city will close three of their schools for poor performance, more than 100 parents and teachers turned out for a town meeting in the Brownsville area of Brooklyn, Wednesday night, with Schools Chancellor Dennis Walcott.

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The Brian Lehrer Show

Chancellor Walcott On Closing Schools

Friday, July 22, 2011

New York City Schools Chancellor Dennis Walcott talks about the New York Supreme Court ruling allowing the city to proceed with closing 22 schools and co-locating 15 charter schools.

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WNYC News

City Can Move Ahead on School Closings And Charters, Judge Says

Thursday, July 21, 2011

A state judge has given the city the green light to close 22 failing schools, and let 15 charter schools share space with regular schools when he declined to grant an injunction requested by the teachers union and the NAACP.

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WNYC News

Charter School Wins Latest Round in Fight to Use Upper West Side High School Campus

Thursday, June 30, 2011

A state judge Thursday declined to continue a restraining order that prevented a charter school from starting construction inside an Upper West Side high school. But the charter still hasn't exactly gotten a green light.

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WNYC News

Higher Grad Rates at Some High Schools Set to Close

Monday, June 20, 2011

Seven out of 14 failing high schools the city wants to close posted higher on-time graduation rates last year — and advocates who have sued to keep the schools open says that's a good sign.

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WNYC News

One Brooklyn School Saved as a Second Hangs in Balance

Monday, February 28, 2011

The Panel for Educational Policy has decided to spare one Brooklyn school from being phased out, but will vote on proposals to phase-out another struggling schools in Queens Tuesday night.

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WNYC News

At Schools That Closed, More Students Graduate and More Drop-Out

Tuesday, January 25, 2011

With the Department of Education looking to phase-out 25 more low-performing schools, the City Council is seeking more information about what happened to students at similar schools that closed.

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