Thursday, December 06, 2007

Conga, Conga, Conga

While UFT President Randi Weingarten was laughing it up with Mayor Bloomberg and the rest of the political elite at her 50th Birthday Party/Charter School Fund Raiser, the city was announcing that 8 "failing" city schools will be closed by the end of the year.

The schools slated to be closed are:

EBC East New York High School for Public Safety and Law; the Business School for Entrepreneurial Studies; the Tito Puente Education Complex; P.S. 101 in Manhattan, and the middle school at the Academy of Environmental Science Secondary High School in East Harlem; P.S. 220, a Bronx elementary school; and Far Rockaway High School in Queens.

The city says a total of 14-20 schools will be closed by the end of the year.

Before Randi got on line to conga with Mayor Mike at her party, she and Leo Casey issued the following statement about the closures:

“These closings represent a major upheaval for all involved, and it is important that every effort is made to ensure that everyone affected is treated with care, dignity and respect. That means students in the affected schools should be assured of a full education as the schools are phased out, and they should have every opportunity to successfully complete their education. It also means that staff members who choose to stay on during the phase-out years should have opportunities to work in other schools.”

Then Randi got hugs and kisses from Mayor Mike at her party and went back to her conga line.

Conga, conga, conga!

Makes you wonder just how she plans to force the city to make sure that everyone affected by these closures is treated with care, dignity and respect when she and the mayor are so buddy-buddy on the party circuit.

It also makes you wonder if, to paraphrase a comment that Schoolgal made in this thread, the relationship between Randi and Bloomie runs so deep that we're just pawns the whole time.


While Bloomberg and Klein were announcing the closure of the 8 failing schools and threatening to close another 12 before the end of the year, the NY Sun reports that parents want the principal of one failing school to be fired but the city so far refuses to do it.

The principal of the ACORN High School for Justice, Joseph Parker, a graduate of the city's Jack Welch Principal's Leadership Academy, is a terrible administrator who runs the school with a prison mentality and refers to administrators as "wardens."

The school has a high teacher turnover rate (as you can imagine) and makes do with a constant stream of inexperienced rookie teachers from the city's Teaching Fellows Program.

The graduation rate at the school is 37%, the school received an "F" on its report card and last year's valedictorian, Sharifa Noble, stood up at graduation and said "ACORN has let me down."

Nonetheless, the city has so far resisted pulling the plug on Principal/Warden Parker, though the DOE did say through a spokesperson it retains the right to close ACORN later in the year, just as it retains the right to close any school that received a "D" or an "F" on its report card.

Call me cynical, but I find it odd that the principal from Bloomberg's vaunted Principal's Leadership Academy who runs his school like a prison hasn't been fired while the city has no problem announcing the closure of the other 8 schools and announcing that as many as 12 more will be closed.

I wonder if it has anything to do with the connections Principal/Warden Parker made through his time in the Principal's Leadership Academy? Or the mayor's reluctance to push out the principals/CEOs he trains at his vaunted academy?

In any case, at the end of the day I'm dubious that the United Federation of Teachers leadership will really force the city to prove all of the schools they're going to close this year are really "failing" (remember, schools with high standardized test scores received "D's" and "F's" on their report cards) or force the city to treat those affected by closures "with
care, dignity and respect."

When Randi and Mayor Mike are as close as they are, it's difficult to believe she'd really do anything in a showdown between the union and the city but talk tough.

You see, it's all about the "connections" - whether they're forged on the party circuit conga line or at the mayor's Principal's Leadership Academy.
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