The Failure of Those in Charge Permeates District 7 in the Bronx

From the ramblings of my blog, South Bronx School

Juan Gonzalez wrote a great piece in yesterday’s Daily News on how the Young Leaders Elementary School, a school opened up by Uncle Mike in 2008, is now on the list of possible closures. 
Funny thing is, Young Leaders Elementary School replaced another closed school, PS 220 back in 2008. PS 220 was run by one of the classiest principals ever to work for the DOE, Michelle Kahn. I know Michelle is up above having the last laugh. She should.

Again, students and their families education is going to again be uprooted and thrown into disarray. Will another school be a community school, or will be a magnet school attracting students from all over the neighborhood. Teachers that have built up some modicum of trust within the community will be thrown away like bathwater. Then again, since this school opened up in 2008, I am sure there are plenty of new, malleable teachers to keep around.

But why is this happening, and what does it portend for PS 154, which is on the closure list as well? In the Young Leaders Elementary School most recent (2011-2012) quality review, this stood out;

Due to the high number of inexperienced teachers, school leaders are cognizant of the importance of ensuring that the decisions around professional development support the individual needs of teachers

Yes, a high number of inexperienced teachers. Inexperienced teachers, which if 154 closes, will be tasked with righting the ship. But yet, when the most recent accountability and review report was released (2010-2011) the turnover rate of teachers with less than 5 years experience was 39%. In fact the school started out with 64% of teachers with less than 3 years experience. Heck, just look at the rate of ELL’s in this school.

But this is Uncle Mike’s way. Instead of improving, let’s destroy. As Mr Spock said in Wrath of Khan when Dr McCoy question what would happen if Genesis was let loose on an inhabited planet;

“It is easier to destroy, than to create.”

But why must the students, the families, the community and the staff of the Young Leaders Elementary School, PS 154, and MS 203, another school in District 7 that is on the closure list and led by a class act in Bill Hewitt, suffer?

Who should be held responsible for this mess? We should begin with Yolanda Torres, Superintendent of District 7. If the Yankees don’t perform, Joe Girardi is the one responsible, as is Brian Cashman. Right now The Crack Team is researching other schools in District 7 that have closed and/or failing under the watch of Yolanda Torres. We here at SBSB call for the immediate removal of Yolanda Torres as District 7 superintendent.

Also, the network leaders of these schools. Yes, we have pilloried Varleton McDonald, but what about Dan Feigelson, network leader of CFN 203 for the Young Leaders Elementary School and his undying devotion to Teacher’s College? And let’s not forget Robert Cohen, network leader of MS 203 CFN 104. What would the folks think at NYU for his abject failure?

No one cares. Everyone, except the teachers, are out for themselves. I brought up a very good point to a person of power in my district last week;

“Why wait for them to close us down? We all know that whatever side of the bed Uncle Mike wakes up on that’s what the decision is based on. We need to not be reactive, but proactive. We need to fight back. We need to muster the parents, the community, and more importantly, the politicians together and fight, fight, fight for this school, the students, and the community.”

My plan was met with derision.

“They don’t want us to do that or anything. Just sit back and wait.”

Those 14 words sum up so clearly at what is coming down the pike. In my opinion, the decision has been made. Time to pack up and start saying your goodbyes.

But it does not have to be that way. The parents of these schools need to rise up, need to speak as one voice, to go to Assemblywoman Carmen Arroyo’s office, to go to Councilwoman Arroyo’s office and get them involved. Get the other parents involved. NOW!

This is not just about your child’s education, but your respect as a community. Do not think for one minute that those white males in the blue suits at City Hall and Tweed give one iota about you or your children. It is all about power, all about taking care of their own, and all about paying monies to their friends for incompetent and failing curriculum.

There needs to be a true grass roots advocacy coming from the the bottom up, the parents and the communities. You are the most important people there are to affect change within the NYC DOE.

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