King made clear Thursday that he believes the city’s most troubled schools should still face closure — even under a mayor and chancellor who fiercely criticized the previous administration for shutting down struggling schools.
During a visit to Bronx high school, King said he expects to receive “a detailed plan later this fall” for the city’s schools with the lowest test scores and graduation rates. Though July was the deadline for the city to turn in those required plans, the city asked for an extension to file turnaround plans for its 29 schools that need them.
King said the extension was appropriate for the city since Mayor Bill de Blasio and Chancellor Carmen Fariña have had to attend to many pressing matters, including negotiating new contracts with the city’s teachers and principals. Many of the interventions that have been proven to improve schools are embedded in the new teachers contract, he added, such as time for teacher training and collaboration and incentives for educators to act as mentors or to teach in challenging schools.
But he noted that other districts are still “opting to close schools when they feel like the culture has become so broken that they’re unable to make improvements.” He suggested that de Blasio and Fariña will also consider taking that step when schools show no signs of improving, even after they are given plenty of help.
De Blasio has said before that closure would be an option “if we feel, after applying all the tools we have in a reasonable timeframe, that we can’t fix the problem.” Since becoming schools chief, Fariña has rarely if ever said she would resort to shuttering a troubled school.
In a policy speech this month, she insisted: “We are no longer penalizing a school for its weaknesses.”