Tuesday, July 22, 2014

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City Abandons School Closings To Align With De Blasio

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Mayor Michael Bloomberg may still be in charge of city schools, but the Department of Education has already abandoned one its most central policies to align with Mayor-elect Bill de Blasio. NY1's Lindsey Christ filed the following report.

For the first time in more than a decade, the Department of Education won't close any schools this year. That's because in the second half of the school year, a new administration will be in charge, one that has made it clear that it doesn't want to close any schools right now.

"We're a little different than a lot of agencies," said Schools Chancellor Dennis Walcott. "We're in the middle of our school year, so it's incumbent on us of having a very smooth transition from one chancellor to the new chancellor and making sure that new chancellor's able to carry out their vision, but also to build on the successes that we've put in place."

Closing low-performing schools has been a key component of the Bloomberg education reforms. Since 2002, the city has closed 164 schools and opened 650 new ones.

Even with the policy paused, on Thursday, the Department of Education released the names of schools that would have been in danger of closing this year, 71 schools that earned low grades on their report cards several years in a row.

As it has in recent years, because of criticism of the closure policy, the DOE will meet with each school to better understand their particular challenges and come up with improvement plans.

"We'll have very intensive work with those schools that are not doing well," Walcott said.

That's exactly what Mayor-elect Bill de Blasio plans to do going forward.

On his campaign website, it says, "Bill de Blasio successfully fought unfair school closures, including the closing of P.S. 114 in Canarsie, Wadleigh in Harlem and Maxwell High School in East New York. Struggling schools require specific plans to address their needs, which is exactly what Bill de Blasio did for P.S. 114 - and it's what he will do for every struggling school."

The problem is, that doesn't always work. Both Wadleigh and P.S. 114 are on the latest list of schools in the most trouble.

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