in reverse

After postponed closure vote, High School for Health Careers and Sciences will stay open

PHOTO: Alex Zimmerman
Parents and advocates gathered at the education department's lower Manhattan headquarters in February to protest proposed school closures.

In the bustle of Thursday’s surprising New York City education news, one change that affects hundreds of city families went under the radar.

The city education department withdrew a proposal to close a struggling Manhattan high school, the High School for Health Careers and Sciences, after community members and the department’s oversight board pushed back.

Early Thursday morning, the Panel for Educational Policy, the city’s appointed school board, blocked two closures and unanimously voted to postpone a decision on Health Careers. The votes were an unusual show of defiance for the panel, whose members are mostly appointed by the mayor and often act as a rubber stamp for city proposals. (The board also signed off on 10 closures.)

Later on Thursday, the department decided not to close Health Careers at all. Instead, the Washington Heights school will remain open and will accept students for the 2018-19 school year. Like the two other schools whose closures were blocked, it will also continue to be part of the department’s Renewal program, a $582 million program that infuses schools with social services and academic support.

“We will work closely with Superintendent [Manuel] Ramirez’s office to provide the community with additional resources including hands-on support from their director of school renewal, instructional coaching, and targeted graduation support, to ensure the school makes the necessary progress,” department spokesman Michael Aciman said in a statement.

The department’s decision to keep Health Careers open follows protest from advocates, families, and city lawmakers who said the school outperformed other schools in the Renewal program on certain metrics. The department cited “extensive community feedback” as a reason it will keep the school open — the same rationale that officials offered when they yanked a different school off the closure list weeks before the panel vote.

Whether Health Careers can continue to marshal the same support over time is an open question. The department’s closure proposal came as eighth-graders were ranking their high school choices and might have steered students away — which could make it harder for the school to show gains in the future.

#GovTest

Where Bruce Rauner and J.B. Pritzker stand on key education issues, from charters to Chicago’s school board

PHOTO: (Rauner) Alex Wong/Staff/Getty Images; (Pritzker) Joshua Lott/Getty Images
Our conversations with Gov. Bruce Rauner (left) and challenger J.B. Pritzker will be aired on Oct. 3 on WBEZ 91.5 FM.

The race for Illinois governor is shaping up to be one of the most expensive in U.S. history, and anyone who hasn’t been living under a rock has probably seen or heard one of the barrage of ads for the candidates. There have been puppies, toilets, and plenty of barbs over wealth and taxes — and the back-and-forth has drowned out the discussion over where the candidates stand on education, arguably one of the most crucial policy areas facing the state.

To dig deeper, Chalkbeat Chicago is teaming up with the education team at WBEZ 91.5 Chicago for a WBEZ/Chalkbeat 2018 Election Special: Testing the Candidates. Republican incumbent Gov. Bruce Rauner and Democratic candidate J.B. Pritzker each have agreed to join us for a conversation about where they stand on everything from boosting the state’s profile in early childhood education to stemming the exodus of undergraduates from Illinois.

The interviews will be separate, but will be broadcast back-to-back on WBEZ 91.5 FM on Oct. 3 starting at 8 a.m.  

In advance of the discussion, Chalkbeat and WBEZ asked each candidate for his position on five questions, and we’ve reprinted their answers in their entirety. We’re also soliciting interview suggestions from our readers and listeners. Use this form to submit a question to us, and follow along with the discussion on Oct. 3 using #GovTest.

#GovTest

What would you ask Gov. Bruce Rauner and J.B. Pritzker about education?

Chalkbeat Chicago is teaming up with the education team at WBEZ 91.5 Chicago for a WBEZ/Chalkbeat 2018 Election Special: Testing the Candidates. Republican incumbent Gov. Bruce Rauner and Democratic candidate J.B. Pritzker each have agreed to join us for a conversation about where they stand on everything from boosting the state’s profile in early childhood education to stemming the exodus of undergraduates from Illinois.

Use the form below to submit questions for the conversations, which will air back-to-back on Oct. 3 at 8 a.m.