The New York State Education Department announced on Thursday that 144 underperforming schools, nearly half of which are in New York City, will enter receivership, a new designation that puts pressure on the de Blasio administration to show improvement at the city’s most troubled schools, and to do so quickly.The program was one of several education reforms hammered out during budget negotiations this spring. Under the deal, schools are placed into two categories, “struggling schools,” those in the bottom 5 percent of schools in the state for three years, based on measures like test scores and graduation rates, and “persistently struggling schools,” which have been in that bracket since 2006.For the first years of receivership, the superintendent — or, in the case of New York City, Carmen Fariña, the schools chancellor — will be the receiver. As receivers, they will have the authority to make changes, like lengthening the school day or year and requiring teachers to reapply for their jobs.Struggling schools will have two years to make “demonstrable” improvement in areas like graduation rates and attendance; persistently struggling schools will have one year to do so. If they do not, an outside receiver, like a nonprofit group, will be chosen by the district superintendent or chancellor to oversee the schools. That receiver must be approved by the state, which has set aside an additional $75 million for the schools.
The list of those schools is here.
There are an awful lot of Queens high schools on that list.
Also a lot of schools in Buffalo.
Here is initial thrust of the program while these schools remain in local receivership:
Under the receivership law, a school receiver is granted new authority to, among other things, develop a school intervention plan; convert schools to community schools providing wrap-around services; expand the school day or school year; and remove staff and/or require staff to reapply for their jobs in collaboration with a staffing committee.
But the ultimate goal is "independent receivership," i.e., an outside entity brought in by NYSED to take over these schools from the local district and convert them to charter schools.
That will happen for schools deemed "persistently struggling" after one year where they are deemed by the state of not improving.
Schools deemed "struggling" have two years before "independent receivership."
And just who are these independent receivers?
Independent receivers, who can be an individual, a not-for-profit organization, or another school district, have sole responsibility to manage and operate the school and have all of the enhanced authority of a school receiver. Independent receivers are appointed for up to three school years and serve under contract with the Commissioner.
As with Persistently Struggling Schools, the independent receiver appointed by the district must be approved by the Commissioner, and the Commissioner will make the appointment if an acceptable receiver is not selected by the district.
NYSUT was busy praising new NYSED Commissioner MaryEllen Elia last week, but her first big step this week is aimed at firing teachers and privatizing schools as allowed by Cuomo's "Schools Death Penalty Budget of 2015."
Harris Lirtzman left an astute comment on the efficacy of this reform program:
Every single one of these schools is in NYC, Buffalo, Rochester, Yonkers, Syracuse, Albany or Islip/Bellevue in Long Island. Jeez, that's really a surprise.
We all know that the only example where "receivership" supposedly does anything for struggling schools is the short-term and very limited improvement in the Lawrence, MA school district. As with every other element of the reformista program--which claims to prize "data," "accountability," "evidence" and "research" above all else--none of that really matters when the reformistas just want to do something.
Beyond that, where are all the magical teachers going to come from to staff these schools when their current rosters get dumped into the ATR in New York City and straight fired everywhere else? Will the State give the "receivers" special wands and hocus-pocus powers to make magical teachers appear from thin air? What "master" teacher anywhere would transfer to any of these schools when the State accountability system will turn a "master" teacher into a "developing" teacher in one year?
Indeed, what "master" teacher would go teach in one of these schools and end up "developing" or "ineffective" the next year under the state's punitive, test-centric teacher evaluation system?
It's, to continue with one of Andrew Cuomo's favorite analaogies for what should happen to "bad schools," the "death penalty" for a teacher's career, since two years of consecutive "ineffective" ratings can get you fired and three years of them will get you fired.
Cuomo's "Death Penalty Program" for struggling and persistently struggling schools is going to bring a lot of destabilization in the next couple of years before most of these schools are ultimately turned over to independent receivers and privatized.
And of course that was always the goal of Cuomo's reform plans - to "bust" the public school "monopoly," to destabilize public education and to privatize public schools.