The city will spend $150 million to transform nearly 100 schools as part of a new “No Bad Schools” program, Mayor de Blasio announced today.
Among the 94 schools tapped to become Community Schools, one (the Henry Street School for International Studies) is located in the Lower East Side and three are located in Williamsburg (Automotive High School, Juan Morel Campos Secondary School, and J.H.S. 050 John D. Wells School). Two more are located just over the Williamsburg border in Bed-Stuy.
During an hour-long speech in East Harlem, De Blasio lamented that many of the schools singled out for reform “were committing educational malpractice and the intervention didn’t come.” The mayor made jabs at Bloomberg’s charter-friendly administration, complaining that, in the past, “a lot of schools were abruptly shut down based on a single standardized test, and that was wrong.” But he also made clear that his so-called Renewal Schools Program was seeking results: “We’ll be ready to close any schools that measure up, it’s as simple as that.”
Among the changes that will be instituted at Renewal Schools are an extra hour of instructional time during the school day, additional after-school seats, more guidance counselors and social workers, “high quality, academically focused summer programs,” and “more professional training opportunities for the teachers,” De Blasio said.
According to the Department of Education, each of the 94 schools will be evaluated by spring, so that individual School Renewal Plans can be put in place that semester (the program is already partially underway at 23 schools). Schools are expected to show improvements in attendance and teacher retention by 2016, and significant improvement in academic achievement by 2017 — or face personnel changes, reorganization, even closure.
De Blasio promised to increase the oversight of superintendents and remove principals who haven’t turned a school around within three years.
According to the Department of Education’s website, the city’s schools were evaluated based on their performance in the past three years, and were selected to become Community Schools if they were in the bottom 5% of lowest-performing schools statewide, were elementary or middle schools in the bottom 25% in Math and ELA scores, or were high schools in the bottom 25% in four-year graduation rate, among other factors.
Groups such as the Children’s Aid Society and the United Federation of Teachers already coordinate services at about 100 community schools across the city. De Blasio had promised to create 100 more, but with no sign of them in his recent budget, advocates had lately grown restless about the pace of reform.
Today, he explained that community schools increase parental and community involvement in a child’s education while also partnering with local groups to offer an array of extracurricular services based on student needs. As examples of those services, he cited food pantries and English classes for parents as well as doctors, nurses, and psychologists who can identify challenges like ADHD or depression. The mayor also cited a Lower East Side school that got Lowe’s to donate a washer and dryer for parental use, where NYU Dental does weekly checkups and cleanings, and where Creative Artists Agency donates backpacks, Thanksgiving dinners, and holiday presents.