from el diario

Dominican families rally to preserve P.S. 132 Juan Pablo Duarte

This story originally appeared in Spanish in El Diario, which supplied the translation.

Carmen Rojas (center), president of Parents Advocating for Their Children, led a protest last week against the possible closure of P.S. 132 Juan Pablo Duarte. (José Acosta/EDLP)

Dozens of parents of P.S. 132 Juan Pablo Duarte, located in the Upper Manhattan neighborhood of Washington Heights, demonstrated last week against the possible closing of the school that serves the largest population of newly arrived immigrant children.

The demonstrators, who were mostly Dominicans, also asked to maintain the name of Juan Pablo Duarte, no matter what happens with the school. Duarte was a founding father of the Dominican Republic, which is celebrating the bicentennial of his birth Jan. 26.

Carmen Rojas, president of the organization “Padres Abogando Por Sus Hijos” (Parents Advocating for Their Children), said Juan Pablo Duarte is among 36 elementary and middle schools that the city’s Department of Education could shut down at the end of the year. The school, which has a dual-language program in Spanish, has earned a D grade on its performance evaluation for the last two consecutive years.

“Ninety-five percent of children from the Dominican Republic and other countries who attend English as a Second Language classes come here. When a 10-year-old comes to this country in fifth-grade without speaking the language, he must compete with a kid who is six years ahead in English,” Rojas said. “Also, since $1.5 million in funding has been cut from this school since 2009, there isn’t enough money to make individual progress with each one of these kids.”

About maintaining the name, Rojas said: “If in the Dominican Republic we have two major avenues with the names of John F. Kennedy and George Washington, why do they want to close our school in the very heart of the Dominican community in New York, and once it’s closed, take away the name of our Founding Father?”

P.S. 132 Juan Pablo Duarte is the oldest school in District 6, almost 110 years old.

The District 6 Community Education Council issued a resolution Nov. 5 addressed to Chancellor Dennis Walcott, in which it points out that the low performance of the school is due, among other things, to “the lack of adequate support from the DOE, budget cuts of $1.5 million since 2009 and school overcrowding, with more than 35 students per classroom.”

“That is why we are demanding that DOE restores the funding it cut from Juan Pablo Duarte’s budget, decreases class size and works with and supports the teaching body to maintain high quality in the bilingual programs,” the council wrote.

Janet Duran, president of the Juan Pablo Duarte Parent Association — who has 8-year-old twins in third grade and 6-year-old twins in first grade at the school — said what the school needs is more financial and technical support from the city.

El Diario is New York City’s oldest and largest Spanish-language newspaper. Read more education news from El Diario.

Betsy DeVos

‘Underperformer,’ ‘bully,’ and a ‘mermaid with legs’: NYMag story slams Betsy DeVos

PHOTO: New York Magazine
A drawing of DeVos commissioned by an 8-year-old starts the New York Magazine article.

A new article detailing Betsy DeVos’s first six months as U.S. education secretary concludes that she’s “a mermaid with legs: clumsy, conspicuous, and unable to move forward.”

That’s just one of several brutal critiques of DeVos’s leadership and effectiveness in the New York Magazine story, by Lisa Miller, who has previously covered efforts to overhaul high schools, New York City’s pre-kindergarten push, and the apocalypse. Here are some highlights:

  • Bipartisan befuddlement: The story summarizes the left’s well known opposition to DeVos’s school choice agenda. But her political allies also say she’s making unnecessary mistakes: “Most mystifying to those invested in her success is why DeVos hasn’t found herself some better help.”
  • A friend’s defense: DeVos is “muzzled” by the Trump administration, said her friend and frequent defender Kevin Chavous, a school choice activist.
  • The department reacts: “More often than not press statements are being written by career staff,” a spokesperson told Miller, rejecting claims that politics are trumping policy concerns.
  • D.C. colleagues speak: “When you talk to her, it’s a blank stare,” said Charles Doolittle, who quit the Department of Education in June. A current education department employee says: “It’s not clear that the secretary is making decisions or really capable of understanding the elements of a good decision.”
  • Kids critique: The magazine commissioned six portraits of DeVos drawn by grade-schoolers.
  • Special Olympics flip-flop: DeVos started out saying she was proud to partner with the athletics competition for people with disabilities — and quickly turned to defending a budget that cuts the program’s funding.
  • In conclusion: DeVos is an underperformer,” a “bully” and “ineffective,” Miller found based on her reporting.

We’ve reached out for reaction from DeVos’s team and will update when we hear back.

home sweet home

‘Finally! Something useful’ or a dangerous mistake? Detroiters respond to city’s housing deal for teachers

PHOTO: Detroit Land Bank Authority
This home on Harvard Road was up for auction the week after Detroit announced a half-off-on-city-owned housing deal for teachers.

Friday’s announcement that all Detroit school employees — whether they work for district, charter, or parochial schools — will get a 50 percent discount on houses auctioned through the Detroit Land Bank Authority stirred a lot of discussion.

Some of our commenters on Facebook had high hopes for the deal:

But one commenter wondered if it’s the city of Detroit that’s actually getting the best deal, not the employees — or other people seeking to buy homes in the city:

And others argued that people who already live in Detroit won’t benefit from this deal:

Still, some readers appear to be ready to move — and have even picked homes to bid on (though not necessarily from the Land Bank Authority)!