In the News: $773 Million Later, de Blasio Ends Signature Initiative to Improve Failing Schools

New York City is ending its signature effort to turn around failing schools.

Mayor Bill de Blasio is canceling the Renewal program, “acknowledging that despite spending $773 million he was unable to turn around many long-struggling public schools in three years after decades of previous interventions had also failed,” explains Eliza Shapiro in the New York Times.

She writes “The question of how to fix broken schools is a great unknown in education, particularly in big city school districts.”

Whether to even attempt school turnarounds is the subject of a 2010 article by Andy Smarick, “The Turnaround Fallacy.” He wrote:

For as long as there have been struggling schools in America’s cities, there have been efforts to turn them around…

But overall, school turnaround efforts have consistently fallen far short of hopes and expectations. Quite simply, turnarounds are not a scalable strategy for fixing America’s troubled urban school systems.

Andy Smarick  also wrote about the failure of the Obama administration’s effort to turn around failing schools, the $7 billion School Improvement Grant (SIG) program.

Despite its gargantuan price tag, SIG generated no academic gains for the students it was meant to help. Failing schools that received multi-year grants from the program to “turn around” ended up with results no better than similar schools that received zero dollars from the program. To be clear: Billions spent had no effect.

— Education Next

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