“I am encouraged that so many schools are showing signs of progress,” she said. “Their improvement is a testament to the hard work and dedication of the teachers and administrators, as well as the determination of the students and their families. But we know there is still much work to be done at every one of these schools—and the State Education Department will continue to help support them in their turnaround efforts.”
That’s Board of Regents Chancellor Betsy Rosa commenting on just-released student outcome data for New York State’s 62 struggling schools.
Ms. Rosa must have a pretty low bar for “encouragement.”
On the State list of “struggling schools” is Flushing High School, which is one of six that, according to today’s Times Ledger, met less than half of its indicators. (The other five are Poughkeepsie Middle School, Museum School 25 in Yonkers, School 41-Kodak Park in Rochester and Build Academy and Frank Sedita School No. 30 in Buffalo.)
Former Mayor Mike Bloomberg intended to shut down Flushing High, which currently has a 57 percent graduation rate. According to 2015-2016 data, 18 percent of graduating seniors were “college ready,” meaning that they could attend CUNY without taking remedial classes.
The school has cycled through four principals in four years. One of the former principals, Carl Hudson, was arrested for possession of methamphetamine one block away from Flushing High. He pleaded guilty to the lesser charge of disorderly conduct because police said “he was in possession of such a small amount of meth.” At the time of his arrest in 2012, he was making $133,834. The DOE couldn’t fire him because of tenure laws so he was rubber-roomed, i.e., paid his full salary without professional responsibilities. No word on his current status.
This anecdote is noteworthy because it represents one of the primary reasons for Flushing High School’s lack of improvement. Mayor Bloomberg and former Chancellor Joel Klein’s plan for the school was to treat it as a turnaround: have all teachers reapply for their jobs (without losing tenure) and replace the principal. But, notes the Times Ledger,
Plans were dropped months later when an arbitrator ruled that the city’s staffing plans violated its contract with the teachers union. Planned changes were reversed, leading students and staff to complain of disorganization and confusion at the beginning of the fall 2012 semester.
If Flushing High were a charter school it would be closed in order to provide students with adequate educational opportunities. But because it is a non-charter, it stays open and stays the same. And because of teacher and administrator tenure laws, student growth is paralyzed at unacceptably low levels.
When will student rights take priority over adult rights? Not as long as Flushing High’s chronic failures are ignored by the City and described by the State Board of Regents as “encouraging.”