Tuesday, March 05, 2013

Levin High School Closing in NYC

A front page NYT story last week on the proposed (and, as always, highly controversial) closing of a failing school (its graduation rate is 31%, the fifth-lowest in NYC). What makes is particularly poignant is that it’s named after a murdered teacher, the son of a prominent businessperson.

Now, just a decade after it opened, New York has deemed Levin High School a failure, and is preparing to close it down.

Closing schools, and replacing them with new ones, has become a hallmark of education reform efforts around the country, promoted by the Obama administration and embraced by Mayor Michael R. Bloomberg, who has shuttered 142 of them since taking office in 2002 and, in his final year, is moving to close 24 more. The central, free-market premise is that schools that fail to deliver should not be permitted to continue, and that their buildings could be better used to experiment with new ideas, often with new personnel.

The policy has been repeatedly criticized by teachers’ unions, and is now also under attack by several Democratic candidates for mayor, who in varying degrees have all pledged to slow or halt the process of closing schools. Civil-rights groups have filed complaints with the federal Education Department asserting that the policy has a disproportionate effect on black and Hispanic students.
The critics contend that school systems like New York’s are more interested in letting schools fail, to accelerate the process of creating new schools, than in helping struggling schools, and the students in them, succeed.

Closing schools is a big, complex issue but ultimately it’s necessary for schools that have been failing to educate the great majority of students, year in and year out. A simple question for the many people in this article who are decrying the closure: would you EVER, in a million years, let YOUR child in this school??? Of course not! So why are you fighting to keep other peoples’ kids trapped there?!?!

We also need to move away from the “closure” language. The school isn’t been razed – the building stays and remains a school – it’s just the adults who are failing to properly educate the children who lose the PRIVILEDGE of educating children, replaced by those who have a better track record of doing so. And if they fail, they will get replaced.

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