Stop School Closings Everywhere
On Monday, March 11th the Panel for Educational Policy (PEP) will meet at Brooklyn Technical High School at 6 PM to vote on the closure of all 26 schools. They will also vote to replace and collocate many of the schools with charters schools. Join us at 5:00pm for a rally to oppose the senseless closing of our public schools and to support our students, parents, and educators. It is important that there is a very strong showing of support for the schools.
Check out MORE at Sheepshead Bay High School’s hearing
The Movement of Rank and File Educators of the UFT stands in solidarity with the impacted school communities and seeks to offer support in any way that we can. The best way to fight a school closure is to organize the community, and speak out for your school. School closings can be the fate of any public school, all of us are potential ATRs. The time to take action is now!
The Mayor is ready to unilaterally close more of our schools, now is the time to ask questions and call for the immediate halt to this failed policy. Schools are places for education of course, but for our communities they are so much more. Schools have long served as the center of communities, parents gathered for many years at PA/PTA meetings, students participate in sports programs where friends and family watch from the stands, after-school programs give students the chance to expand learning outside of the classrooms, and the school yard has the been the pace where lifetime friendships have developed. We cannot allow the mayor and his rubber-stamp Panel for Education Policy committee continue to close our schools and ruin our communities.
What baffles us is how our government from the President down to Mayor has continuously told us that our banks and Wall Street firms are “Too Big to Fail”, yet they tell those same communities that your schools are too big to succeed. Why are our financial institutions bailed out with trillions of taxpayer money, but our schools are allowed to close? The economists don’t have any problem explaining to the world that allowing these gigantic institutions to fail would cause systematic destruction of our economy because all aspects are connected. Shouldn’t our government use that same philosophy for our schools, if we allow the school to be closed, aren’t we allowing the entire system to fail? Closing schools results in displaced students, teachers without classes to teach, and communities without a center.
The city can start by keeping our schools open and then ensuring they have the same conditions as all schools have in every neighborhood. One New York City school should not have better textbooks, better labs, greater advanced technology and more after school programs than another. It’s time to equal the playing field and have all our students provided the same resources to succeed. Our government must reinvest in our public schools as they have reinvested in private banks.
We also have to deal with the socio-economic issues that our children are facing. Our students contend with academic challenges based on circumstances that they face in their daily life. MORE calls for full wrap around services for schools that have been targeted for closing. Our bilingual students need increased individual attention and we need additional services for students with a variety of special needs. There needs to be an immediate increase in the number of guidance counselors, nurses, psychologists and social workers at our schools. The city has a large pool of excessed teachers and guidance counselors, its time to place these highly qualified professionals where they are needed most, in our most needy schools. The increase in staff will result in more services and lower class sizes for our children. The city should immediately increase funding to these schools so they can offer more robust after-school programs and weekend tutoring. Full utilization of federal and state child nutrition programs that offer healthy breakfast, lunch, and dinners are necessary for our students. This will allow our students and schools to succeed.
The Mayor, chancellor, and their rubber-stamp Panel for Education Policy, show complete disregard and disdain for the students, teachers and communities affected by this policy, inflicting unconscionable harm on them and ignoring the democratic process. School reform should involve all the stakeholders; school faculty, parents, community members, and students.
Many of the school closing decisions are based on the faulty and volatile testing data in the school progress reports, which ignore some of the most important things that happen in schools; electives, clubs, connections between teachers and students that meet students’ social and emotional needs. Charter schools are replacing schools slated to phase out. Charters choose students by lottery. They serve far fewer ELLs and children with special needs, and counsel out students they believe won’t perform. Despite this, 80% of charter students perform the same or worse than students in public schools.
As Diane Ravitch has stated:
“It is easy to close schools, disperse the students and claim victory. But no school is improved and no student is helped by closing schools. Choice policies enable schools to avoid the students who are likely to lower the school’s test scores. These kids tend to get bounced from one “bad” school to another until they drop out. In Chicago, where many schools have been closed, most students were reassigned to other low-performing schools and gained nothing from the change.
What’s more, no nation with high-performing schools is pursuing the same policies as our government. None has a program to privatize large numbers of schools, and none relies on tests of basic skills to close schools and judge teachers”