Report Gives Mike Bloomberg’s Polemic School Closure Policy an ‘F’


A new report released last week comes down hard on the mayor’s record of shutting down schools that aren’t performing well. Mike Bloomberg and the Department of Education can add it to the list of grievances and criticisms that have been thrown at them so far this year (He demonizes teachers too much, he’s shut parents out of the process, and the mayor has too much darn control!)

The report, officially released at a City Hall rally on Friday, called “School Closures: A Shell Game With Students,” is the work of two advocacy groups: the Coalition for Educational Justice and NY Communities for Change.

(They also had support from some pols: State Senators Bill Perkins, Adriano Espaillat, Velmanette Montgomery and Eric Adams; Assembly Members Jose Rivera, Hakeem Jeffries, Rafael Espinal, Felix Ortiz, Nick Perry; and Councilmembers Ydanis Rodriguez, Robert Jackson, Margaret Chin, Mathieu Eugene, Jumaane Williams, Letitia James, James Sanders, Stephen Levin, and Gale Brewer).

Today, we got in touch with officials from the Department of Education for their rebuttal. Here are some of the main arguments and findings from the report as well as the DoE’s response. Let the debate begin!

Over the past decade, the report says, “Mayor Michael Bloomberg’s Department of Education,” has closed 117 schools in the city, including 25 this year.

“When a school is closed, the schools that replace them often don’t serve the same populations of students. Instead, many of the newly created small schools serve a lower percentage of the highest-needs students,” the report reads.

Not true, the DoE fired back. New schools on the whole serve more black and Hispanic students and students with disabilities than the schools they replaced — and more than the citywide average, officials told Runnin’ Scared.

New schools opened under Bloomberg have helped students graduate and be better prepared for college, complete required state exams, and earn credits at a higher rate than schools created prior to 2002, the DoE added.

The CEJ report, though, cites eight closed high schools that had higher percentages of special-education students than the eight schools that replaced them.

The report goes on to argue that nearly half of the schools slated for closure this year are schools that opened under Bloomberg.

This is true. The city has proposed to phase out 11 schools that have opened since 2002, the DoE said — but that’s out of more than 500 new schools that the administration has created, and a vast majority have turned around campuses that were neglected for decades, the department argued.

One of the charges of the report is also that the DoE has continued to assign large concentrations of low-performing students to large struggling schools — without potential success strategies. The DoE says this is factually incorrect and that new schools are serving the same or even higher-needs populations than the schools they replaced.

DoE spokesman Matthew Mittenthal said in a statement to Runnin’ Scared, “Black and Hispanic students since 2002 have seen historic increases in graduation, college-readiness, and college enrollment rates — precisely because the city replaced large, failing high schools with new small schools. We refuse to go back on a strategy that has dramatically changed thousands of lives for the better and given families better options in neighborhoods that had long been neglected.”

Let us be honest here for a moment — there were a lot more complaints from the advocates and responses from the DoE to those complaints that we didn’t include, because a lot of it gets rather confusing. But we encourage you to read the report and let us know what we missed!