Mayor tacitly acknowledges failure of his Renewal Schools program with the announcement of 14 new school closures.
(This is a guest post by Pete Cook which originally appeared in his new blog, “Retort: Correcting the Record on Education Reform.” Pete became involved in education reform in New Orleans Public Schools as a 2002 Teach For America corps member and has worked in various capacities at Teach For America, KIPP, TNTP and the Recovery School District.)
Back in 2014, newly-elected New York Mayor Bill de Blasio unveiled his “School Renewal” program to improve 94 of the city’s perennially failing schools. Under the plan, these so-called Renewal Schools would receive a massive increase in funding and additional resources to allow them to become “community schools,” a model that the teachers unions have been heavily promoting in recent years.
The Mayor’s plan represented a decisive shift away from the policies of his predecessor, Michael Bloomberg, who closed dozens of persistently failing schools across the city during his 12 years in office. De Blasio was a vocal critic of the closures, claiming that the Bloomberg Administration “abruptly shut down” struggling schools “with too much reliance on test scores in making the decision and not enough effort to save them.”
Parents and community members protest the closure of C.S. 300 in the Bronx.
But three years and $582 million dollars later, Bill de Blasio is tacitly acknowledging that the Renewal Schools program hasn’t worked and is falling back on Bloomberg’s tough-love approach to dealing with the lowest performers.
On Monday, the Mayor announced that the NYC Department of Education would shutter or merge 14 Renewal Schools at the end of the academic year. As Politico pointed out, this means that de Blasio will have closed more than “a third of the original 94 schools in the program.” An additional 21 Renewal Schools that have met at least two-thirds of their performance goals will transition out of the program in the spring, while continuing to receive additional resources and support.
Although New York City Schools Chancellor Carmen Fariña denies it, many observers see the closures as an indication that the district is phasing out the Renewal Schools experiment (an interpretation bolstered by the fact that officials haven’t added any new schools to the program, either)
The Renewal Schools program is the first thing De Blasio has killed since that poor groundhog in 2014.
You can read more about Mayor de Blasio’s school closure announcement and what it means for his Renewal Schools program at:
- The New York Times
- Chalkbeat: here, here, and here
- The Seventy-Four: here and here.
- New York School Talk here and here.