Wednesday, November 25, 2009

Help the At Risk Queens Schools

The Queens section of the Daily News reported on three schools in Queens that received D ratings. One of those schools is Jamaica High School.

The grading system the DOE uses is a joke as it penalizes schools who take in the most at risk students. Please help us rally support to save schools like Jamaica that have incredible histories and do not deserve to be shut down.

Happy Thanksgiving all.


Anonymous said...

Where were you when they were announcing the closing of F.K. Lane? Now that the problem is at your back door you guys are interested!

Anonymous said...

We Are With You James...Closing of any school especially during these tough times is very very wrong!
Your College Friend,

Anonymous said...

We Are With You James...Closing of any school especially during these tough times is very very wrong!
Your College Friend,

Anonymous said...

I read that there is a plan to close 10% of all the lowest performing schools in the city. This will create more ATR's and subsequently less work for substitute teachers. Teachers need to organize. What is the fear. All of us are suffering and if we don't fight they will let us all go down.

James Eterno said...

ICE has opposed school closings since we started. In fact we have been fighting this issue since before ICE was formed. The fact that it is my school makes it hit home even closer but you can look at the record on this issue and we have been clear in supporting schools that have fought closure.

Anonymous said...

I call bullcrap. ICE is only mentioning this on it's webpage because one of the schools is where it's UFT presidential candidate is from.

When my school closed I didn't see any mention of it on this blog. James why didn't you post a piece about 314?

Anonymous said...

I work at Brandeis High School which is slated to close in 2012. What is ICE doing for Brandeis? It bothers me to see Jamaica HS a priority for ICE meanwhile no new students were allowed into my school this year and the closing process has already begun.

James, THIS hits home for me.

James Eterno said...

It has been a big cause for ICE for years to stop school closings.

Back in my New Action days, I supported a Manhattan high school chapter leaders resolution that ended up at the UFT executive board that called for a moritorium in school closings. The UFT at the time said no I do believe.

A few years later, ICE presented our own resolution opposiing school closings that passed at the executive board and DA.

ICE has supported schools such as Lafayette and Tilden as they have attempted to stay alive. I am in contact with Lane people often and we of course support them.

Many schools are in jeopardy because of the policies of Bloomberg and Klein; Jamaica has been fighting this for years. It hit home because of the grade but I am not a "Johnny come lately" to this cause.

We do need a collective UFT response that is strong.

James Eterno said...

I checked the archives to make sure I was not dreaming. You can see our report from January 2007 and the speech we gave in support of it copied in a separate comment.

In other Executive Board business, James Eterno, ICE's High School Rep, submitted a resolution calling for the UFT to get off the fence and call for a moratorium on the closing of schools before an independent evaluation can be concluded.

While hundreds of our members face excessing Weingarten showed how she can fiddle while Rome burns and substituted a watered down resolution which called for the DOE to "refrain" from closing schools.

Thanks, Randi. Way to stand up to BloomKlein who close schools for political reasons and to create large pools of excessed teachers. But what could we really expect, especially when you completed a sweetheart deal to continue the decimation of seniority, loss of grievance rights and other basic rights of our members? You showed your true colors when you "agreed" with the closing of Lafayette. The teachers and staff at Lafayette thank you as well.

The resolution follows:

January 2007 Resolution Calling for a Moratorium on Closing Schools

WHEREAS, the Department of Education (DOE) chronically mismanages schools, refuses to provide schools with adequate funding and then blames staff for failing results; and

WHEREAS, there is no valid evidence that proves the educational benefits of the DOE’s policy of closing schools, not admitting new students, displacing staff, and then reopening the same building as a different school or group of schools; and

WHEREAS, there is no clear standard for what constitutes a failing school yet the DOE in December announced the closing of five more schools; and

WHEREAS, the resulting period of uncertainty can have a deleterious impact on students in the effected schools as well as in neighboring schools that become severely overcrowded by accepting incoming students who would have gone to the schools being phased out; and

WHEREAS, new/redesigned schools do not have to accept special education and Limited English Proficiency students in their first two years of existence, thus creating fewer educational options for some of our students most in need, and concentrating disproportionate numbers of these students in other facilities, straining the resources of those schools too; and

WHEREAS, the 2005 UFT Contract eliminated Article 18G5, which gave staff in closing or phased out schools the “broadest possible placement choices available within the authority of the Board;” and

WHEREAS, the current Contract throws staff (experienced and new) from closing/phasing out schools en masse onto the “open market” where they must look for their own jobs or become Absent Teacher Reserves (day-to-day substitutes) thus discouraging UFT members from wanting to work in difficult schools; and

WHEREAS, many of the schools that replaced previously redesigned schools are now themselves failing and in danger of closing; therefore be it

RESOLVED, that the UFT call for an immediate moratorium on the closing down/ redesigning of schools by the Department of Education until independent studies are done to assess the effectiveness of the newly redesigned schools as well as the overall impact of closing/redesigning schools on students, staff and communities throughout the system; and be it further

RESOLVED, that the UFT use part of its “Teachers Make a Difference” campaign to publicize the need for full funding of all schools, with particular attention paid to calling for extra funding for troubled schools in order to: lower class sizes, provide modern up to date facilities as well as safe and stable environments as an alternative to closing schools, displacing students and staff resulting in overcrowding of neighboring schools.

James Eterno said...

It’s time for the UFT to use its resources to stop allowing the Department of Education to get away with holding teachers and students accountable for their mismanagement.

The DOE is successfully implementing the Grover Norquist “Starve the Beast” policy and it must be stopped. Norquist recommends tax cuts and more tax cuts so that government won’t be able to function and then his people complain that the government is doing a terrible job and needs to be cut some more.

The DOE chronically under-funds schools. The courts have declared that the city doesn’t even give adequate funding for a sound basic education. The DOE adds to the problem by chronically mismanaging schools and then blaming us when schools don’t get everyone to be proficient.

Instead of thanking the teachers and other UFT members for performing educational miracles with so many students in situations that are virtually impossible, our schools are deemed failing by some criteria that nobody knows about. The schools are then closed down, we are displaced and have to apply for our jobs back in our own schools. Kids who would have gone to the school closing are directed to other schools which become more overcrowded and then they are deemed as failing. The new schools don’t have to take special education students or ESL students for two years so they look like they are succeeding but the success and extra funding later dry up and certain new schools have already been deemed as failures. This has been going on for years. This cycle must cease as nobody has shown any concrete evidence that any of this works for students

The UFT’s position on all of this has been to wait. In 2003 the Manhattan High School Chapter leaders came up with a resolution calling for a moratorium on the breakup and redesign of large high schools. I cosponsored the introduction of that resolution in this body and it was tabled. The UFT put together a small schools task force that called for among other things a study to be done on the effectiveness of small schools but it didn’t call for the DOE to stop closing schools until we have the data.

In 2006 the Parents Citywide Council on High Schools called the Chancellor to substantially delay the implementation of small high schools in part because of the issue of special ed and ESL students not being accepted in new schools. I asked last year at this body if the UFT supported that resolution and I was sent a copy of the small schools task force and later the UFT sponsored a resolution reaffirming the value of large high schools but not calling for the DOE to stop closing schools.

Now we need to go further. When the DOE brings in an outside agency to review schools and they find Tilden High School is proficient and then soon thereafter it is announced that Tilden will be closing, there is something that doesn’t smell right. Small schools versus big schools is not the issue. The issue is what constitutes a failing school? It’s not only large high schools that are in danger. Schools that have already been redesigned are in trouble. Many of us are being threatened with being closed because we exercise our contractual rights. I have been told that I better tone it down or Klein will come in and shut us down.

What this resolution asks is for the DOE to stop shutting down schools until we can get some fair, independent studies done to assess the effectiveness of newly redesigned schools including examining the impact on neighboring schools. This resolution also asks for the UFT to publicize the need for fully funding all schools but particularly schools that are in trouble so we get what we need to succeed and stop the madness of closing schools, displacing students and staff and then overcrowding other schools where they then are deemed as failing. That cycle must end now.

Anonymous said...

James says "ICE has supported schools such as Lafayette and Tilden as they have attempted to stay alive. I am in contact with Lane people often and we of course support them."

James - exactly WHO are you in contact with at Lane? It's not the chapter leader or any delegates. Can you say who it is that you communicate with? Or, is it just bull....?