The New York State Department of Education has singled out 34 New York City public schools, most of them large high schools, that it believes should be replaced.
Many of the schools are already on the city’s to-be-closed list and others have had poor reputations and low grades on the city’s annual report cards for years. Now that SED has designated which schools are the bottom five percent across the state, school districts will have to submit plans to Commissioner David Steiner detailing which of four federally mandated plans they intend to implement.
The plans are a menu of sorts: four options the U.S. Department of Education believe can transform “persistently low achieving” schools into success stories. Before the list came out today, state officials said they planned to replace many of the schools with charter schools, a proposal that could be severely delayed by the state legislature’s recent decision not to lift the state’s charter cap.
Long before the list came out, Chancellor of the Board of Regents Merryl Tisch said the state’s choices would not be controversial.
“There is not going to be a person in New York state who will be able to defend any of the schools that end up on our replacement list,” state Board of Regents Chancellor Merryl Tisch said in October.
Yet parents, students, and teachers have been turning out in the hundreds all winter for large-scale protests of the Department of Education’s plans to close schools that are also on the state’s list.
Districts can choose to turnaround, restart, transform, or close their schools. The turnaround model has two versions in New York: in one a school is closed and replaced by a new school and in another the school’s structure and design is completely rehabbed. The restart model involves turning a public school into a charter school that serves a whole new batch of kids or one that serves the exact same student body. New York City does the former with some frequency, but the latter is unprecedented.
The last two options include transforming a school — allowing the school to remain open until it shows improvement — or closing a school.
Schools that appear onto SED’s list are Title I schools that have not met their Average Yearly Progress goals and have the lowest combined scores on the state math and English tests or the lowest graduation rates.