The schools in question are Lafayette and East high schools.
Both schools are undergoing turnaround reforms and serve high needs populations. Buffalo News reports that Lafayette "provides instruction to a student population that is 70 percent immigrant and refugee."
King is threatening to pull the plug on turnaround funding and revoke "the registrations of these schools and effectively shut them down" unless the district agrees to allow for students to take vocational classes outside of the Buffalo school district fully paid for by BPS.
Johns Hopkins University has been working with staffs at both schools "to prepare the schools for a full implementation of the university’s turnaround model."
King claims that BPS has “'has failed to create the conditions necessary' to allow Johns Hopkins to effectively implement its turnaround model at the two schools as required by education law."
But according to Buffalo News, Johns Hopkins University officials praised the staffs and leadership at both schools for their dedication and said progress was being made on the turnaround efforts:
Charles Hiteshew, who heads up Johns Hopkins’ educational “talent development” program for middle and high schools, offered nothing but praise for the staffs and leadership at Lafayette and East.
“Those schools have been tremendous partners to work with,” he said.
Regarding the central administration, he said, “It’s bureaucracy, but it’s bureaucracy anywhere. There haven’t been structural issues we haven’t been able to work through.”
Nothing in his experience would suggest that the university could not successfully serve as the lead administrators of Lafayette and East next school year, he said.
He added that Johns Hopkins already has established a six-member school leadership team in Buffalo, including three people who have relocated from Los Angeles, Pittsburgh and the Seattle area. The university was prepared to establish small learning communities at each school with teaching teams, an accelerated curriculum and early-warning system to keep students from falling behind.
Unless the state agrees to award the grant money to Lafayette and East, he said, “it will be pretty much impossible to deliver those resources.”
“For us to pull the plug on this at this time would be devastating,” he said.
Ah, but that's exactly what NYSED Commissioner/rookie teacher John King plans to do.
Who cares if Johns Hopkins is praising the staffs and leadership at these schools and saying that he believes the turnaround implementation will be successful?
John King certainly doesn't, and that's because he has a vendetta against the Buffalo school district and the Buffalo teachers union for trying to delay the high stakes consequences of his APPR teacher evaluation system.
King was angered when he found out that the Buffalo school district and the union had made a side agreement to not use the new system for high stakes employment decisions for one year until the kinks could be worked out of the system.
King and his boss, Andrew Cuomo, launched attacks against Buffalo, with Cuomo calling the side agreement something that bordered on legal and ethical fraud, and forced the district to abandon the agreement with the union.
The Buffalo Teachers Union has filed suit to force the district to abide by that agreement:
“We will leave no stone unturned to make sure these evaluations, which everybody now realizes were flawed, aren’t being held against our teachers,” said BTF President Philip Rumore.
State officials said the side agreement reached between the district and the union is invalid because it was not submitted to the state as part of the district’s official teacher-evaluation process.
Legal action by the teachers union could threaten the status of more than $30 million in state aid this year, in addition to more than $10 million in various other government funding this year and tens of millions in future years.
Rumore said the BTF will work with the New York State United Teachers union to legally challenge any effort by the state to withhold funds from the Buffalo Public Schools.
“We’re going to fight to make sure that they don’t use our kids as pawns in order for us to get this money,” he said.
Finally, the BTF may still consider rescinding, by vote of all Buffalo teachers, its approval of the teacher evaluations for the last two school years.
Some on the Buffalo school board are complaining that King has it in for Buffalo, that there are other districts with schools more troubled than Buffalo that King ignores while he focuses his reformy efforts on Buffalo.
Gee, the bad blood King and Cuomo have over the evaluation side agreement and the resulting court case couldn't be having an effect on how King treats Lafayette and East high schools, could it?
I mean, NYSED Commissioner/rookie teacher John King, he with the vaunted one year teaching experience in a public school and the architecture experience creating a Boston charter school with one of the highest attrition and suspension rates in the state of Massachusetts, wouldn't let his hostile feelings toward the Buffalo school board and teachers union cloud his judgment when dealing with these two schools, would he?
Yeah, actually he would and is.
It is clear when the Johns Hopkins University turnaround people are praising the staffs and leadership at both Buffalo schools, declaring progress is being made in both schools, and asking for the time needed to complete that progress but the NYSED Commissioner is undercutting all of that by claiming the Buffalo school district is incapable of educating students at those schools, slashing the turnaround funding for the schools and demanding the district allow students to take outside classes that he is purposely trying to destroy both of these schools and scapegoat the teachers and the schools and district leadership as failures.