Thursday, April 12, 2012

Summary Public Hearing: Implementation of Federal School Intervention Models (Turnaround) in NYC (Assembly Standing Committee on Education)

Education Committee Hearing on Implementation of Federal School Intervention Models in NYC, April 11, 2012, 10:30AM - 5:00PM.

NYSED Commissioner John B. King and NYCDOE Chancellor Dennis Walcott, Suransky and Sternberg spoke in support of Turnaround models to support rapid changes toward increasing school achievement.

The Education Committee was highly concerned about:
  1. Lack of transparent NYSED oversight of the Regents Reform Agenda, which supports the use of Race to the Top funds to implement the Turnaround model (including lack of oversight of Educational Partnership Organizations and Local Educational Agencies)
  2. NYCDOE inability to provide proof that the Turnaround model is effective way to improve schools
  3. Lack of community input regarding implementation of radical Turnaround model

  • Commissioner King spoke favorably of the NYSED Joint Investigation Teams that assess intervention needs of public schools, although the JIT does not involve parents or teachers from the school. 
  • NYC DOE cited successful turnaround school, but later Leonie Haimson stated that Suransky's school was successful because it had small class sizes.
  • Assembly Member Benedetto represented Lehman HS on multiple occasions stating Lehman did not have time to implement Restart funds.
  • AM O'Donnell consistently argued that DOE goals are admirable but DOE does not listen to communities, and that funds would better be used to lower class sizes.
  • AM Brenner suggested that Race to the Top funds only account for a minuscule percentage of the annual school budget (the fight for major changes in schools is a fight over pennies) implying that school closures/Turnaround/Restart/Transformation/Co-location along with teacher evaluation mechanisms, and push for Common Core Standards are simply part of a political fight rather than real concern over appropriate spending allocations.
  • AM Hon. Catherine Nolan (Chair of Committee on Education), angry about the Turnaround model at her school Gover Cleveland HS in Queens, was concerned mostly about lack of oversight and accountability measures. She stated on more than one occasion that she had not anticipated or intended school closures when she supported application for Race to the Top funds. She requested that NYC DOE reconsider implementation of radical Turnaround model for September, especially because it is not proven effective for improving school achievement.
  • All Assembly Members present, including AM Millman, Clark, O'Donnell, Benedetto, N Rivera, Brennan, Simanowitz, seemed concerned with unintended consequences of the Turnaround as a model for reform of public schools. The Assembly told NYSED and NYCDOE to expect FOILs for documentation of oversight and accountability measures.
  • However, Suransky, Walcott and Sternberg agreed that Turnaround is emotional but rapid transformation is necessary.
  • *NYSED and NYC DOE left after their testimonials and did not hear the testimonials of the following groups, however their representatives remained to take notes.


  • Ernest Logan, Council of School Supervisors and Administrators, pointed to the blame game between the City and State, and that Turnaround is not an educationally sound model to support Persistently Low Achieving schools. He requested State Education Department oversight on local education authority, DOE and Chancellor to follow the rules.
  • Leo Casey, VP UFT, stated that Turnaround was the most disastrous policy of the Bloomberg Administration, largely because it continues to concentrate high needs students in a failure by design model, and called for 2 year moratorium on school closures.
  • Santos Crespo, Local 372 NYC Board of Education, related charter school co-location to apartheid in schools where some students are deemed better than others, and further that layoff of 642 BOE employees had a negative impact on school safety and support services. He suggested a lack of oversight in how Turnaround might increase school crime, bullying and drug use because of the shifting of teachers and BOE employees.
  • Leonie Haimson, Exec. Dir. Class Size Matters, argued that Race to the Top funds should be used to lower class sizes as a proven effective model to increase school achievement. She suggested that Community Education Councils be given weight in decisions regarding school closure / co-location.
  • Paola de Kock, NYC Citywide Council on High Schools, opposed the Turnaround model because it relies on replacement of personnel using "fundamentally arbitrary criteria" and relies on inexperienced teaching force from Teach for America. Further that DOE use of SIG funds is reckless when taking into account the unintended costs of ATRs, new teacher training and opening of new schools. She also mentioned how the Brooklyn Community School should not have been on the list of Persistently Low Achieving schools because it is a transfer school and therefore cannot be held to the 4 year cohort graduation rate, but that it is too late to do anything for that school.
  • Natasha Capers, Coalition for Educational Justice, PS/IS298 in Brownsville, stated that PS/IS298 is facing Turnaround with no clear explanation from the DOE and that using the Turnaround model in a community school is like replacing 50% of your family.
  • Elizabeth Buiss, Teacher John Dewey HS, stated that as a Restart school, Dewey had written a DOE-approved Comprehensive Education Plan to improve their school, but only given 4 months to implement the CEP when the DOE stated they would be up for Turnaround. Interestingly the Educational Impact Statement for the Turnaround proposal uses the same model that Dewey's School Leadership Team crafted for their CEP.
  • Dirk Peters, Teacher Schomburg Satellite Academy Bronx and Better Bronx Schools, stated that Race to the Top promotes opening of charter schools, which has been implemented through the school co-location model. Further that SUNY and State are not engaging in oversight of co-location of charter schools in DOE public schools.
  • Community Education Council 3 urged a cease on school closures and co-locations until all questions presented by the Assembly have been answered by NYC DOE and NYSED.
  • Students from Grover Cleveland HS, Lehman HS, Automotive HS, Sheepshead Bay HS, Legacy HS, El Puente, and others presented their lack of faith in the NYC DOE Turnaround model to increase school achievement, especially because it would remove 50% of their teachers.

Summary by Better Bronx Schools

The Education Committee did not take to the idea that using Race to the Top funding to promote co-location of charter schools was inherently connected to the Turnaround model. 

This implies that folks do not see a connection between co-location and future label as Persistently Low Achieving status followed by Turnaround implementation. 

Schomburg Satellite, although only facing co-location with a charter school in September 2012, may in the near future be slated to the same fate as Brooklyn Community School. Please lookout for negative reports about Schomburg Satellite.

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