Dear Commons Community,
The New York Times is reporting that New York City will open 54 new schools in Fall 2012 – 24 charter schools and 30 regular public schools. This announcement was not without controversy especially in light of the rancor caused by the announced closing of 23 schools earlier this year.
“William C. Thompson Jr., the former comptroller and a 2009 Democratic candidate for mayor, called the closing of schools a “shell game” and a “Ponzi scheme” and urged the State Legislature to issue a moratorium on such closings.
Two other possible candidates, Scott M. Stringer, the Manhattan borough president, and Bill de Blasio, the public advocate, did not call for a moratorium but said that they would like to see fewer school closings.
The three were speaking at a forum at New York University, where a group critical of Mr. Bloomberg’s policies released a report showing that the 23 schools targeted for closing this year had higher proportions of special-education students, students who were over age for their grade and students who qualified for free or reduced-price lunches, as well as lower proportions of students proficient in math and language arts, than the city’s school system as a whole.”
By this fall, the Bloomberg administration will have closed, or will have begun phasing out, 140 schools since 2002 and will have opened 589 new ones — many of them small schools that share space in old school buildings. Teachers at closed schools cannot be fired, but they are often not hired by the new schools, and can wind up as substitute teachers for years before finding permanent positions.
Michael Mulgrew, the president of the United Federation of Teachers, noted that 9 out of the 23 schools targeted for closing this year had been created by the Bloomberg administration since 2002.
“We intend to fight to make sure these new schools get the supports they need,” Mr. Mulgrew said. “Nearly 40 percent of the schools on the current closing list were created by Bloomberg, and we’d hate to see him try to close these at the same rate before he leaves office.”