Wednesday, June 17, 2009

Watching what Bloomberg does

An article in yesterday's NY Times announced a report being published today that recommends this:
— The city should not limit its high school reform efforts to the creation of small schools. Midsize and large schools can be effective and should be supported.

— The DOE should recognize that large high schools still serve the majority of students in New York City, and support them accordingly.

— The city must ensure that the "default schools"— schools where kids who are not picked by the school choice process wind up — get the support they need to be successful.
Some of us expect that within a day or two we'll be seeing the mayor and his limos setting up a press conference at one of the few remaining large HSS in the city, just to show that he cares about these schools as well. He doesn't, and we all know it. If he cared, he wouldn't be doing a meet-and-greet in the middle of Regents week.

Stay tuned, because if he tries to do a PR blitz anywhere near our schools, we're going to write about here.
Success at Small Schools Has a Price, a Report Says

Replacing large, poor-performing high schools with smaller schools in New York City has led to lower attendance and graduation rates at other large high schools, which have struggled to accommodate influxes of high-needs students, according to a report to be released on Wednesday.

Small schools, which cap enrollment at several hundred students and boast themes like environmental science and the performing arts, have emerged as a hallmark of Mayor Michael R. Bloomberg’s education reform efforts. Over the past seven years, the city has closed more than two dozen large comprehensive high schools, which typically enroll thousands of students, and replaced them with smaller schools, which are supposed to foster more intimate relationships and higher student achievement.

The report, conducted by researchers at the New School’s Center for New York City Affairs, does not dispute the success of small schools in improving graduation rates of needy students. But it argues that the city should do more to support comprehensive high schools, which have been saddled with large numbers of the high-needs students who do not enroll at small schools.

The 18-month study examined 34 large high schools and found that 14 of them had decreases in attendance and graduation rates from 2003 to 2008, when the number of small schools in the city multiplied.

Based on interviews with principals, teachers and parents, the report concluded that the reason for the decreases was that the comprehensive high schools were overwhelmed by influxes of students who had histories of poor attendance, behavior problems and low academic achievement. Many of those students came from closed failing schools that were replaced with small schools, the report said.

“Small schools have really made remarkable gains for thousands of kids, but there’s a price, and the price is a lot of the large schools have gotten worse,” said Clara Hemphill, an author of the New School report, who is known for her guidebooks on the city’s best public schools. . . .

You can finish reading the article for yourself at the link. The trick is to disregard what Bloomberg says and watch carefully what he does, and that is bound to include a bit of theatrics to make us forget he's just taken a hit on the chin.

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