The Education Department has announced that three public schools in Brooklyn, New York, might be closed as a result of unsatisfactory performance. This move is contrary to expectations from Mayor Bill de Blasio, who, up until recently, has been against such extreme measures.
The three schools in question are the School for an Urban Environment, the Peace Academy middle school and the Foundations Academy HS, all three located in the Bedford-Stuyvesant neighborhood. With a total of only 217 students between the three of them, the schools should not open their doors next school year, says the Department of Education.
Peace Academy has only 47 students, the lowest enrollment rate in the city and Urban Environment has only 57, the second lowest. Furthermore, only 2% of the Urban Environment students passed their English state exams in the last two years.
Foundations Academy didn’t do much better, as in the school year 2013-2014, it had only 22% of its students graduate. But it still came as a radical change for this school, as it had recently been lauded for its pro-active attitude to increase graduation rates.
This step was somewhat unexpected from Mayor Bill de Blasio, who had condemned his predecessor’s, Michael R. Bloomberg, shuttering of 150 schools. Mayor de Blasio had professed the plan to increase the funds of such challenged schools in order to improve their performance.
Many find his decision hasty, as the schools did not even know that they were at a risk of being closed, although Education Department spokesperson said that the mayor and chancellor had forewarned of this possibility on many occasions. It is also surprising especially since the Bloomberg administration had set the precedent of schools being “phased out” over a period of 2 or 3 years.
Carmen Farina, schools chancellor, has explained this decision by resorting to the reason of low enrollment. Schools with such low enrollment rates cannot provide the education that is needed by their students. She has also promised that all the students would be helped to find schools that could better meet their educational needs.
In the meantime, the mayor’s School Renewal Program that was supposed to turn around troubled schools has come under attack for not having clearly-set goals and for setting the improvement bar for schools too low.
Image source: www.dwellbrooklyn.com