Archive for the tag 'robin kovat'

Sheepshead Bay High School students protesting the city’s closure attempts in the last school year. (Photo: Robert Fernandez)

We reported in November that the New York Department of Education was once again looking to close Sheepshead Bay High School, including it on an “early engagement” list. This week, the school popped up on yet another list of low performing schools targeted for closure, according to an article in School Book.

The planned closing of Sheepshead Bay High has been fought for some time, and teachers and administrators have thus far been successful at keeping the school open despite mounting pressure from city officials. This time around, though, the DOE doesn’t appear to be pushing an immediate closure at the end of this school year, but “phasing out,” meaning no new students can enroll at the school.

According to School Book, the High School’s closing hasn’t shocked its staff:

Robin Kovat, a social studies and law teacher at Sheepshead Bay High School, said the announcement Monday did not surprise her.

“The D.O.E. has been trying to close us for nine years. They are finally succeeding. Even though we knew it was coming, it is still so sad,” Kovat said.

Sheepshead Bay was one of the high schools the city wanted to “turn around” this year. Despite a new principal and additional support systems, Kovat said one year was not enough time to demonstrate results.

“A lot of us put our hearts and souls into the school and into the kids and really know that we made a difference in their lives. You know, maybe the numbers aren’t reflecting that,” she said. “At the same time as our statistics are going down, we have rising stars. Seriously.”

Despite the disappointment from teachers and administrators, Deputy Chancellor Marc Sternberg and the DOE are taking a hard stance against struggling schools.

“We expect success,” he said in a statement. “After a rigorous review of academic performance, we’re proposing to phase out a select number of low-performing schools. We’ve listened to the community and provided comprehensive support services to these schools based on their needs. Ultimately, we know we can better serve our students and families with new options and a new start.”

UFT President Michael Mulgrew, though, called shenanigans on the idea that DOE provided comprehensive report, noting to School Book, “Large comprehensive schools like Lehman and Sheepshead Bay have been further undermined by DOE policies that led to increased concentrations of high-needs students, but with no increase in the services such students need.”

Source: Wikimedia Commons

Several weeks ago, 24 city schools, including Sheepshead Bay High School, were set to be closed. Thousands of teachers were to be fired and left without work as new principals and faculty were brought in and the school renamed. The action would have brought millions of federal dollars into the system.

Then a court arbitrator threw the brakes on the plan.

The arbitrator determined that the plan to dismiss 50 percent or more of the teachers at each turnaround school was in violation of the city’s collective bargaining agreement with the teacher’s union.

The decision stops the city from moving forward with its plan, and also disqualifies the city from receiving more than $40 million in federal funds for the overhaul process.

GothamSchools.org has a thorough report about the arbitrator’s decision, in which the arbitrator claims the city used “circular reasoning” to justify the turnaround, using the mayor’s own words to reveal the problem with the plan.

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Chris Llego, a junior at Sheepshead Bay High School, stood before a tribunal of five international criminal court chief justices at the Peace Palace in the Hague, the Netherlands, this past February. In front of an audience of students, teachers, international attorneys, judges and other dignitaries, he delivered an argument in a mock International Court Case (ICC).

The judges, according to Llego, were imposing.

“They looked so wise, advanced and skilled; they were in a whole other league,” he said

Llego was a member of one of two select teams of 16 New York City public high school students in an International Moot Court competition that was held this past February, in the Hague, The Netherlands. Team One from New York City prevailed over teams from around the world, including teams from Russia, Poland, Argentina, The Netherlands, and the home of the eventual second place team, Venezuela.

Llego was a key member of the New York contingent, and was one of three New York City students who participated in the final round.

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