We haven’t been able to confirm it, but GerritsenBeach.net is reporting that Sheepshead Bay High School, John Dewey High School, William E. Grady High School, and FDR High School are set to close by the end of 2010.
We first wrote in November that administrators were considering Sheepshead Bay H.S. (3000 Avenue X) for closure, but at the time the principal denied the claims. Since then, the city’s list of “persistently lowest achieving” high schools swelled from about a dozen to 34, including the addition of the three other southern Brooklyn high schools.
The list of targets was created as part of a proposal for Race to the Top, a federal grant program aimed at encouraging states to be aggressive in fixing or closing their lowest performing schools. New York State stands to gain about $500,000 for every school it reforms using one of the federal government’s four models. New York Times describes them as follows:
They have confusing and similar-sounding names: turnaround, transformation, restart and closure.
The least drastic of the four is the “transformation” model, which requires that the city replace the principal and use a “rigorous and equitable evaluation system” for teachers and other administrators to weed out the poorly performing ones from the good. That model could be used in up to 17, or half, of the schools on the list…
The other 17 schools would have to follow one of the more aggressive strategies. The “restart” requires the city to hand over management of the school to a charter or other education-management organization. In the “turnaround” model, the school either remains open but replaces at least 50 percent of its staff, or shuts down year by year, in the same way that city schools currently close. In the “closure” model, the school is simply shut down.
The city says it will decide which model to use on a case-by-case basis, and since there haven’t been any official announcements regarding the four southern Brooklyn schools, it’s possible they may just be “reformed.”
Councilman Lew Fidler, who chairs the youth services committee and is a member of the education committee, told Yournabe.com that the changes are a part of a quiet initiative by the Department of Education to shutter large high schools and replace them with smaller public and charter institutions.
“The day they closed Canarsie [High School], I predicted they’d be coming for Sheepshead next,” Fidler told Yournabe.com. “It really has nothing to do with Sheepshead so much as this agenda that DOE has to close the large high schools. They go where they think the political will is weakest. There’s no way they’d be able to get away with closing Midwood, Murrow or Madison so Sheepshead was the next logical choice.”
Fidler is a staunch opponent of charter schools.
“I think that the charter system creates a two-tier system of public schools,” he told Sheepshead Bites in July. “They ought to pay more time and energy in public schools that need to be improved rather than creating a second tier of schools, and the argument that charters perform better than public is based on misleading and distorted facts.”
He explained his reasons for opposing charter schools here.