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Sunday, January 18, 2009
DOE's Children Last Program - When A Large School Is Closed & Replaced By Small Schools
Accountable Talk wrote about one of the DOE gimmicks in closing large high schools and bringing in small schools. Therefore, lets go a step further and look at what is happening at a closing large high school. Lets call the school Hoover High. Originally Hoover High was a struggling large comprehensive high school that serviced the low and working class neighborhood it was located in. With a student population of approximately 2,800 students, the school offered a comprehensive academic curriculum and various extra-curricular activities. This included a wide and varied sports program and many clubs. However, the non-educators at Tweed had other ideas for the academically struggling school. They decided to close the school and put four small schools in the building while still leaving the remaining students of Hoover High to graduate out of the closing school. This sharing of dwindling resources, as the total student population dropped to 900, bickering between administrators and staff resulted in a very unsettled transition and accusations of favoritism. Worse, was that the five Principals could not work together and many extra-curricular activities were starved for funding and many of these programs were eliminated. Even updating the school library and obtaining gym equipment could not be completed because of the bickering Principals. Moreover, the new schools have "Leadership Academy Principals" and almost all the teachers hired by these Principals were either Teach For America (TFA) or Teaching Fellows, all "newbie teachers". Very few experienced teachers wanted to or were selected by the insecure Principals to work in these new small schools. The result, a rise in student discipline issues, classroom management problems, and a high teacher turnover (see graphs above). Finally, the small schools have not only limited enrollment but limited course selection and with inexperienced teachers who don't understand the curriculum, many of them not certified in the subjects they are expected to teach in. These small schools are fated to be a dismal failure once the two year exemption of excluding special education, ELA, and disruptive level one eighth graders are eliminated.
The DOE rather than bring in more resources to the struggling Hoover High and strengthen the student discipline code to ensure disruptive students no longer could terrorize students and staff alike instead threw out the "baby with the bath water" with the establishment of the "flavor of the day" small schools at the expense of a truly comprehensive educational experience with the closing of Hoover High. Children Last continues.....