from the grassroots educational movement
Many public schools across the city have been targeted for closing this year. From Red Hook, Brooklyn to the Rockaways to Harlem to the Fordham neighborhood of the Bronx, all doomed by School Report Card grades of D or F, which are based on a single year's achievement scores. The decision was made unilaterally without hearings or community input. This new round of closings affects hundreds of teachers and more than three thousand students. It follows six years of school reorganizations under Klein and Bloomberg that have directly affected tens of thousands of students and left close to 1700 teachers still without positions. Teachers in the targeted schools lose their school communities and the relationships they forged over years. Practical knowledge that school veterans have developed is discarded as new schools are established all over again.
The drama of school condemnation only obscures the deteriorating conditions of learning. Class sizes have increased. Buildings are overcrowded. The Daily News recently reported that 17,000 lack access to a school library. Dozens of overcrowded schools are using their libraries as classrooms. Others have librarians working as teachers. Such dismal lack of the basics is not accounted for on school report cards. It must be obvious by now that the DOE's obsession with accountability is more about controlling people than the improvement of anything.
Grading schools with yearly achievement scores stifles creative and relevant pedagogy. It leaves no room for setting long-term educational goals. The growing ranks of teachers in excess are part of the need to keep educators on the defensive, uncertain and in fear. It's time that we joined in an effort not only to resist more closings but to take back our schools for our students and the community.
The Independent Community of Educators & the New York Collective of Radical Educators are forming a coalition with other school activists to address the plight of our teachers, students and parents in the communities of targeted schools for closings. We will explore school closings in relationship to:
* the City's failure to provide viable alternatives for poorly functioning schools and schools with high need students
· our loss and further threats to teacher seniority, due-process and tenure rights
· the scapegoating and discrediting of competent educators
· navigating the morass of the open market hiring system and the new counter-incentives for hiring ATRs
· valid evaluation of teacher quality and performance (e.g. teacher data reports)
· threatened termination of competent ATR educators and their impact on quality services
· high stakes testing
· the accelerated push for charter schools and other forms of privatization
· the need for democratic governance; not mayoral dictatorial control.