Tuesday, December 15, 2009

UFT Proposed Resolution on School Closings for Dec. 16 DA

WHEREAS Chancellor Klein and the Department of Education have announced the closure of an unprecedented number of twenty-two New York City public schools, disproportionately drawn from the ranks of high schools; and

WHEREAS the decision to close such a large number of schools, especially high schools, is based not on any educational calculus, but on the need to pursue the Chancellor’s political agenda of freeing up space to house new charter schools and new DoE schools; and

WHEREAS since 97% of the elementary and middle schools received grades of ‘A’ and ‘B’ on the School Progress Reports, reflecting the inordinate weight the reports give to state exams, Chancellor Klein and the DoE have attempted to disguise the political character of their space and closure decisions by closing large numbers of high schools; and

WHEREAS among the schools announced for a number which are in good standing with the New York State Education Department and are meeting their Annual Yearly Progress goals under No Child Left Behind, a school which it just opened four years ago and a school which received a school-wide bonus for meeting their progress goals; and

WHEREAS among the schools announced for closure are those which have made academic progress in recent years; and

WHEREAS there are serious and fundamental flaws in the School Progress Reports which are used as a basis for these decisions:

· the inordinate weight [85% of the total grade] given to scores on New York State ELA and Math exams for the elementary and middle school levels;

· the establishment of new cut scores for grades this year at the same time that old ‘peer index’ [the measurements of student need] were maintained, even though many schools with low grades had greater numbers of high needs students;

· the use of scores on the 8th grade New York State ELA and Math exams to establish the ‘peer index’ for high schools, thus failing to give the schools that take in large number of “over the counter” students, some of whom are the highest needs students in our schools [i.e., recent immigrants who are English Language Learners with limited formal education in their native country], full credit for their challenging student populations;

· the failure to distinguish between special needs students in “less restrictive” and “more restrictive” environments in the calculation of ‘peer index’, thus treating schools with large numbers of students with more severe learning disabilities as if those students had less severe disabilities;

· the placement of schools with concentrations of high needs students in ‘peer groups’ with schools which do not share many of the same challenges;

· the failure to provide appropriate credit for academic progress to schools with large numbers of transfers and “over the counter” students who do not have scores on 8th grade ELA and Math exams;

WHEREAS as a consequence of these flaws, the School Progress Report grades for high schools reflect as much the concentration of student need as the actual academic performance of a school -- by the DoE’s own measures the high schools targeted for possible closure because of poor grades have a ‘peer index’ over 20% lower, reflecting far greater need, than high schools receiving a grade of ‘A’;

WHEREAS the Chancellor and the DoE have failed in their basic responsibility to provide schools with concentrations of high needs students the supports and the resources necessary for their education, and are now blaming those schools for their management failures;

WHEREAS the decision of the Chancellor and the DoE to close so many high schools and replace them with charter schools and new schools that do not serve high school grades will result in an overcrowding of the remaining high schools and in the rolls of teachers placed in the Absent Teacher Reserve [ATR];

WHEREAS under the new governance law recently passed, the decision to close a school should not be made unilaterally by the Chancellor, but require an educational impact statement by the DoE and a process of consultation with the Community Educational Council and School Leadership Team that allows for public reaction and comment; therefore be it

RESOLVED that the United Federation of Teachers condemns Chancellor Klein’s decision to close an unprecedented number of New York City public schools in order to create space for new charter schools and new district schools; and be it further

RESOLVED that it is the “persistently failed management” of Chancellor Klein and the DoE -- and in particular, the concentration of students with high needs in a number of existing schools and the failure to provide those schools with the supports and resources necessary for the education of those students -- that needs to be phased out, not schools; and be it further

RESOLVED that the UFT condemns the cavalier decision of Chancellor Klein and the DoE to close schools in a way that will greatly increase school overcrowding and the ranks of teachers in the Absent Teacher Reserve, thus exacerbating problems already created by their “persistently failed management”; and be it further

RESOLVED that when a New York City public school slated for closure determines that they will oppose this decision as without educational merit, the UFT provide full and complete political, logistical and educational support to that school in their efforts to overturn that decision; and be it further

RESOLVED that the UFT support efforts to utilize the process of consultation for closing schools outlined in the new governance law to overturn closure recommendations without educational justification; and be it further

RESOLVED that the UFT mobilize the membership in all schools to provide support for schools fighting educationally unjustified closure decisions.


Anonymous said...

when is this nonsense going to stop......atrs r treated like doe pieces of garbage to do wht thet want when its convenient for them and the school.... we all know that nothing can be done until a new approved contract goes into play....second, if they go the poverty route then they have to layoff from the very bottom last in first out destroys all new schools

Anonymous said...

Seems like the Union is a thing of the past and Bloomberg has won. All I see are more and more atrocities happening to teachers and public school children. MORE, not less. We have no union anymore, do we? No wonder so many teachers are afraid to stand up for their "rights."