Tuesday, December 13, 2011

Why Mayor Bloomberg's Small Schools Are Destined To Fail Over The Long Run.

While I watch the once great comprehensive High Schools close (Jamaica, Beach Channel, Christopher Columbus, Washington Irving, etc), I am sent to the small schools that has replaced them. Being an ATR, I have a unique perspective of the small schools that have popped up throughout Queens and have found why many of them are destined to fail in a decade.

The reasons that this Bloomberg schools fail is that eventually the small schools end up with the same student population as the closed and closing large comprehensive high schools they replaced. Or as some would say it's like "rearranging the deck chairs". However, there are many more reasons that the small Bloomberg schools are destined to fail. Let's look at them.

  • Poor Administration lead by a "Leadership Academy Principal".
  • An inexperienced teaching staff with poor classroom management skills.
  • Limited academic electives or extra-curricular activities.
  • Pressure to keep student numbers up to ensure a continuous funding stream.

Let's look at each one of the problems.

Poor Administration: Many of the small schools have had "Leadership Academy Principals" in charge and quite a few of them lack the necessary classroom skills and mentoring to help their teaching staff. Furthermore, these principals have been taught to not collaborate with the teaching staff and will use intimidation tactics to get their way. The result is high teacher turnover and an unstable school environment. Finally, many of these principals tend to ignore student discipline issues and staff morale suffers. More than one Principal has told their staff that they will call in any student accusations to the investigative agencies OEO, OSI, and SCI no matter how frivolous it may seem to be.

Inexperienced Teaching Staff: Many of the small schools suffer from inexperienced teaching staffs, many of them untenured. Worse, a majority of these teachers come from the Teach For America and Teaching Fellows alternate certification programs and are not even certified! Is it any wonder that these small schools fail within the decade? While many of these teachers are enthusiastic, enthusiasm is not as important as curriculum knowledge and classroom management which these teachers lack.

Limited electives and extra-curricular activities: These small schools have limited or no electives that attract the well-rounded student and is usually the biggest complaint, even in the small specialized schools. The same goes for extra-curricular activities and many students feel cheated of a total high school experience without these necessary and important additions to the core subjects of the school.

Pressure to keep student numbers up: Many of the small schools are increasingly competing with each other for the diminishing amount of high achieving students. To ensure that the schools keep up their student numbers and funding, these schools are taking increasing number of students that are less than academically inclined. With only a few remaining large comprehensive high schools available, the high need and academically challenged students are finding their way into the Bloomberg small schools and the "student screening" that was allowed previously by the DOE is increasingly frowned on and those wonderful academic gains are rapidly disappearing and in some cases have disappeared altogether.

The UFT's Jackie Bennett did a study that showed that the "college readiness" of the small Bloomberg schools were lower than the larger schools and this shows very conclusively that the Bloomberg small schools are a failure and the sooner we go back to giving the children of New York City a total learning environment the better.


Anonymous said...

I agree 100% - many of these schools are going to fail. There is no discipline in many of them. Students get to class late every period and never get punished. I have seen and heard the students talk back to principals and APs as the adults attempt unsuccessfully to instill some tone of discipline in the schools. Most of the teachers are unhappy and they are not shy about discussing the pressure they feel to pass failing students. Many of the schools have oversized classes that teachers are told to accept and not to grieve. Many teachers are teaching out of license. And when I talk to the students they can't wait to get out of the schools either - they have no sense at all of school sprit or pride. Many of them know that even in the small schools they are being treated as second class citizens. Seems like everyone is distraught except for team DOE - good work Tweed - you have wrecked everything.

Anonymous said...

The schools offer no diversity or variety. We have a middle school attached to our elementary school. They have the same science, ELA, math, social studies, art, gym/health teachers for 2 years. They are offered only French as a language and no music. Some of them have been together for 9 years (counting Pre-school). The school was constucted for "little" kids and they are oversized in the hallways, bathrooms, etc.
One day, someone high up at the DOE, will say, "Hey, why don't we take all the middle schoolers from the K-8 schools and put them together in one building and call it either Middle School or Junior High School. We'll give them major and minor subjects, clubs, teams, detention, library, etc." What a wonderful world it will be.

Anonymous said...

I, too, have the inside view of the Queens schools. Being an ATR has provided me and others with information that would make the parents blood boil! One new school at Springfield Gardens has had no language teacher since the opening of the school year. The kids log on to Rosetta Stone daily. How could that be legal? A friend of mine is planning to put together a full report on the many travels we have all had. Let's expose Bloomberg....

Tom Forbes said...

I see all kinds of nonsense going on the "District 2" high schools. Many of the schools I have been to function because of the students and teachers, not the administrations. The UFT is completely inept at getting these new schools to build a strong chapter. We should also expose the UFT as we let the truth out about Bloomberg and company.

Anonymous said...

actually they are supposed to be logging on to rosetta stone but most of them were logged on to to something else - I saw it with my own eyes - not my responsibility to try and get kids who I will never see again on task - I won't deal with that headache - just made sure they didn't break anything - or anyone! How will they get a grade

Anonymous said...

So the failed teachers who scooted into the "Leadership Academy" are failing as principals. What is next, the earth is round?

Anonymous said...

Another point that everyone should also notice that the TFA/TF teachers have one goal, to become administrators after they've taught 2-4 years. There's a newbie in my school and this is his 2nd year teaching. He told me that he can't attend the rallies because he's taking administration classes. The mayority of these new teachers want to be administrators. Teaching is not their calling.

Anonymous said...

You are all wrong the small schools are a great success! Lets look at what they have accomplished.
1-closing large academic schools that offered a variety of subjects.
2-killed many of the most vocal and active union chapters in the UFT.
3-Allowed several thousand teachers since 2005 to become ATR's, many who have retired early or left the city schools.
4-Offered positions to new Academy principals who if they survive will follow the policies of the administration long after the mayor is gone.
5-Killed many a per session activity and negated retention rights to many programs such as evening school.
6-Forced neighborhood high schools to take low performing students that accelerated their closing and then create more smaller themed schools.
7-allowed for fraud in construction as project after project to redesign the phased out schools into mini schools costs big bucks.
8-eliminated any potential parental involvement as the numbers are diminished when divided into smaller school communities(hence the reduction of parent coordinators).
9- DO YOU GET THE POINT? It has been a great success at the expense of NYC public high schools. Hold on to those worthless diplomas.