Thursday, April 28, 2011

New Network for Closing Schools: Uh, Thanks?

Chancellor Walcott yesterday announced the formation of new "Children First" networks that would specialize in giving guidance to schools that are about to be closed.

Just that sentence alone ought to give you pause. I know it had that effect on me.

Schools that are being phased out have typically been troubled by a variety of challenges. In many cases, these schools have not received adequate support for these challenges despite asking for it many times, sometimes over the course of years. The strange case of P.S. 114 is one that shows that, despite steady improvement in test scores and parents who want to school to remain open, the DOE does what it does, for reasons that are occasionally opaque at best.

I'm not sure I can praise this move on Walcott's part. Obviously phasing-out schools do face unique challenges. But how much better it would be to make a renewed commitment against closing schools? For the Chancellor to state, "School closures are terribly disruptive to communities, and we're going to focus on giving lots of extra support to schools that need it, rather than close them" would go a long way in building trust with stakeholders.

Instead, Walcott is so committed to continuing the same old (ineffective) policies that he's throwing life preservers after the man overboard has already drowned--or, more accurately, been thrown overboard by the captain and the first mate.
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