Two days ago, City Hall released its ‘Progress Report’ for the country’s largest public school system. In it, 217 of New York City’s public schools were blacklisted for receiving either an F, D or the third C in a row on the Department of Education’s report cards.
It was the highest amount of academic centers for youth so far to be considered ‘failing’ institutions — last year, only 116 schools were scrutinized for underwhelming achievement. However, after immediate scrutiny from teachers and parents alike, the DOE has scratched a bunch of schools off of its ‘hit list.’
Now, according to the Daily News, only 36 schools – are at risk of being closed down. Here is how the numbers break down by county: 16 schools in the Bronx, 12 in Brooklyn, 4 in Manhattan and 4 in Queens. Staten Island schools, somehow, remains untouched.
The move by Bloomberg’s administration is a combination of two notions: the onslaught of budget cuts on the horizon and the remnants of a No Child Left Behind mindset.
Second, the idea that a failing school must be destroyed rather than rebuilt is a result of the Bush/Obama doctrine on education. With No Child Left Behind, the logic to give our schools ‘report cards’ – a use of lexicon that’s almost offensive to those who ‘fail’ – was established to bring our students up to higher standards in regards to the, uhm, world.
Using standardized testing scores and other indicators of ‘performance,’ we would check off the schools that simply weren’t makin’ it to fix that whole thing called the achievement gap. In this case, 36 of them were underachievers.
Even as millions upon millions of taxpayer dollars pour into the New York City public school system, Bloomberg has extended this managerial mentality of downsizing in the face of higher profits to our metropolis. It is the latest in a series of efforts to trim the edges off the enormous Education budget; you might remember the decision to cut the Brooklyn after-school program in half a few months ago.
Over the next few months, the lives of hundreds of students and where they go to school will be decided by the DOE. According to Schools Deputy Chancellor, Marc Sternberg, “[The DOE has] begun conversations with 36 schools that we have identified as ‘struggling.’ These are difficult conversations, but it’s important to have this dialogue and hold our schools up to the highest standards.”
It’s like getting fired in the nicest way possible.
This article from the Village Voice Archive was posted on October 4, 2012