A new article on the Ed Next website by Josh Dunn looks at efforts by New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg and Chancellor Joel Klein to close 19 chronically failing schools.

As Dunn explains in “Educational Providence,” in March 2010, a New York State trial judge halted the school district’s efforts to close the schools, sympathizing with a claim made by the United Federation of Teachers that the “educational impact statements” that the city is required to provide before closing a school contained insufficient details for the 19 schools it wanted to close.

In June, the city announced that it would use a $300 million federal School Improvement Grant to transform, dramatically overhaul, or close 34 schools, which included 8 of the schools that the city originally wanted to shut down. “Opposing these measures would put the teachers union in an uncomfortable position,” Dunn writes, “since it would mean rejecting the federal money.”

Dunn concludes, “Since the students in 19 schools will be subjected to at least another year of educational mediocrity, this outcome is hardly optimal. But the city’s response shows that school districts and their long-suffering students do not have to be completely victimized by litigation.”

The article, “Educational Providence: State courts close one door, federal money opens another,” will appear in the Winter 2011 issue of Education Next, and is now available online.

Last week, the New York City Department of Education announced that the number of schools that could be closed for poor performance had risen to 47 schools.  The Department of Education will be reaching out to parents and other stakeholders at the schools this time around even before it determines which schools on the list will be closed, “going beyond what the law requires,” noted Barbara Martinez of the Wall Street Journal. But Maura Walz reported on Gotham News that UFT President Michael Mulgrew “is charging that the city’s new engagement strategy for schools that could face closure next year is too little, too late.”

In a new podcast,  Josh Dunn talks with Ed Next’s Mike Petrilli about recent developments in the saga.

Last updated November 4, 2010