It was at the very end of the school year at P.S.73 in the Bronx -- with classes already finished and students already out that our Superintendent had some very surprising news for my School Leadership Team. She called us together for an emergency meeting to share with us that our school had been visited by a Joint Intervention Team (formed of representatives from NYC Department of Education and NY State Education Department) and selected to be either closed or restructured. She said that the Principal and the SLT would be informed of the Chancellor’s decision by July.
Upon finding out something so unforseen, I was left with countless questions. How could a school that has been improving so rapidly -- going from a C to an A -- be faced with these options? Why aren’t parents involved in the discussions about what will going to happen to our school? Why does the DOE neglect and shortchange schools for so many years, and then, once the schools begin to improve on their own, close or restructure them? And lastly, how could firing Principal Mirvil be positive for the school?
Since 2006, the percentage of 4th graders on grade level at PS 73 has increased 14 points in ELA and 35 points in Math – both greater improvements than the citywide as a whole. Last year, Principal Mirvil was among four principals to be knighted and made a member of the Order of Academic Palms, the first time this honor has been bestowed by the French Government outside of France. In addition to producing great gains at the school, Mr. Mirvil has implemented a dual language English/Spanish Program and English/French Program. He is an excellent principal, loved by parents, teachers and students, and is truly a member of our community who is connected and listens to our needs. It makes absolutely no sense to fire him -- our community will suffer without him and would also suffer by closing the school
The Department of Education has their ears plugged to parents when they make decisions about the future of our schools. My school is a living testimony of this. I am the PTA President at this school, and I had never heard until June 22nd that our school was at risk of closing. The DOE is so disconnected from what is actually happening inside the school, and are overlooking the positive changes that both the data and the everyday learning environment proves. We do need more resources and support for our school, but we do not need this extreme shift. Most importantly, no matter what happens, the DOE and the Joint Intervention Team should involve PS 73 in all conversations about the future of our school.
Jose Gonzalez is the PA President of PS 73 as well as a Parent Leader with United Parents of Highbridge and the NYC Coalition for Educational Justice.