Students & Parents Call for an End to Controversial Turnaround Model
Students, parents and community leaders from across New York City rallied at City Hall on Thursday, April 5th, calling for an end to the Bloomberg Administration’s plan to risk millions of dollars and the futures of thousands of students on the unproven “turnaround” model at 26 struggling schools. They also released a report, called “Turnaround or Teardown.” The event was led by students from the targeted schools.
“The mayor doesn’t understand a school building is more than just an address,” said Chantell Chimbo, Student organization president at Long Island City. “Closing Long Island City and opening a new school in the building takes away our identity and replaces it with a poor copy. A school is made up of the programs, the teachers and the students who attend and work together. Our school helps all our students who are trying to be successful, and we cannot afford the instability that closing and changing the school will cost us.”
“Today’s event is about the turnaround policy not being an effective strategy for struggling schools,” said Justin Watson, President of Save Legacy Coalition and member of Student Activists United. “Bloomberg needs to meet with us and hear our strategies. Education should start with the people. My school, Legacy School for Integrated Studies, was voted to close, but we are displaying resiliency by not submitting to defeat. We’re here for the long haul.”
“Mayor Bloomberg’s continued use of unproven strategies to support our struggling schools has left thousands of our children as collateral damage in the process. This must stop and it must stop now,” said Zakiyah Ansari, Advocacy Director, Alliance for Quality Education. “He is willing to spend $60 million on the turnaround model—even though there is not a single research study showing that it works. This risky and reckless strategy will hurt 35,000 students. This has nothing to do with educating kids better, and everything to do with politics. These funds would be much better spent on proven, research-based school improvement strategies.”
The administration responded to growing public and political pressure this week by eliminating seven schools from its list of “turnaround” targets—but opponents of the plan say the model should not be used at all, arguing there is no research to show that firing half the staffs and imposing radical overhauls at schools works. They also released a report, “Turnaround or Teardown”, at a rally kick-off press conference showing “turnaround” changes would up-end progress at schools on the list which are demonstrating success with the use of other models, and that “turnaround” would cost taxpayers tens of millions of dollars that are needed for proven school improvement strategies.
According to the report, of the 26 targeted schools:
- 11 do not meet the DOE’s closure benchmark of receiving a D, F, or three Cs on Progress Reports
- 10 improved faster on their 4-year Regents graduation rates than the city average
- 4 improved faster on their 6-year graduation rates than the city average
- 4 received a Proficient rating on their most recent Quality Review Report
- 2 have college readiness rates that exceeded the citywide average
And analysis of the “turnaround” proposals yielded several conclusions:
- There is no research indicating that the “turnaround” model will effectively improve schools.
- It will cost the city more than $60 million to replace the necessary staff at the 26 schools.
- 18 of the 26 schools have large student populations in areas where there is a severe shortage of available teachers, such as ESL and special education.
Following the press conference on the steps of City Hall, about 75 students walked to City Hall Park to chant, sing and speak in order to bring awareness to the neglect they feel from Mayor Bloomberg. Students also presented the “Waiting on Bloomberg” clock to track how long its been since the mayor has ignored their request for an in-person meeting. They will be posting a photo every day that the Mayor continues to ignore their request on their blog, click here to follow it!
Members of Student Activists United, Coalition for Educational Justice, Alliance for Quality Education, El Puente and Urban Youth Collaborative attended and helped organize today’s rally.