Fight Night at the Schools Meeting

Brooklyn Tech High School will play host to tonight's meeting of the Panel for Educational Policy, and it promises to be doozy. Barring interruptions from the weather, the panel should have quite a large audience in the house, as they debate closing some 25 low-performing high schools.

If you plan to stay for the whole meeting, drink plenty of coffee. The school closure PEP meeting last year went on past 3:00 AM, and they were only deciding upon 19 schools.

Though the PEP voted to close all of them, they were stopped later by a lawsuit. Many of those same schools will be on the agenda tonight. (To get a good sense of how some of those troubled schools have been doing over the past year, check out WNYC's long series on several of them, the Big Fix.)

Also on the agenda tonight will be whether the Upper West Success Academy, run by the Eva Moskowtiz's Success Charter network, the subject of this week's Voice cover story, will be granted space to open up on the Brandeis campus in Manhattan (which currently houses more than one school). Moskowtiz has organized parents from her seven schools to come out tonight in support of opening an eighth, coaching them in advance on how to address the panel. Alongside the UFT, the communities of the 25 schools that might get the axe, and the other schools on the Brandeis campus that don't want to be squeezed, it should make for a lively evening.

Chancellor Cathie Black, who was booed and had condoms thrown at her honor at her first PEP meeting, should be in for a real treat as she presides over school closures and charter co-locations, less than two months on the job.

In an attempt to keep the meeting from running too late, the fun will be spread out over two evenings, happening tonight and again on Thursday. But the city was unable to close the 19 schools it wanted to last year largely because the court ruled it had not given proper notice nor adequately listened to communities before making the PEP made its decision. Therefore, they've had a number of on-site hearings at the schools, and tonight they'll probably give everyone who signs up in time their allowed two minutes to speak, even if it takes until the wee hours.


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