The facts of this article are to the best of my recollection. The information in this article is largely public information. It relates to real New York City Public Schools. I urge anyone to go to the NYC Board of Education and look up anything I have misstated. This is my view and recollection on this matter. Now, I’ll go into detail on how Michael Bloomberg closed my school and labeled it a failing public school. He then opened up worse schools in its place.
My Elementary School in the 80’s
As before, noted in the black 2 percent, I am a proud product of the New York City Public School System. I went to elementary school at an elementary school in the Bronx, New York largely in the 1980s. The 80’s was a bad time largely because of the crack epidemic. I can remember walking to school and seeing empty crack vials in the cracks of the concrete. They even existed in the playground that we would play in attached to the back of the school at lunch. The school back then was the same as recent times, largely Hispanic and black students. There were probably twice as many Hispanics than blacks and very little white students. At the time as a child I didn’t realize this racial dynamic. Looking back on it now this was the case.
Bloomberg’s Plan to Shutdown My Elementary School
In 2010, NYC Mayor Michael Bloomberg labeled the public school that I went to in the 80s as a failing NYC public school. The name of this Public School was PS 102 Joseph O Loretan. PS 102 was located in the Bronx, NY in a largely underprivileged community. Bloomberg’s solution for the school that he labeled as failing was to shut down the school and split the building up into three separate schools in one building.
The community largely fought Bloomberg and there was several meetings on the matter but Bloomberg won, overrides the community and scheduled the closing of PS 102. The three new schools that opened up in the one building were Bronx Little School, PS 531, and PS 536. The two schools PS 531 and PS 536 were two new schools specifically created to replace my former school PS 102. The Bronx Little School already existed in the PS 102 building. Again, when I went to PS 102 in the 80s it was one building, one school.
Proof that Bloomberg’s Plan Failed
PS 102 no longer exists. I selfishly feel like a piece of my history was unnecessary wiped out. The school could be improved with better resources. Anyway, this is already done. Let’s now compare the 3 new schools that are living in the building previously occupied by PS 102. The only real way that I know to do so is to compare the current standardized test scores of the three schools to the test scores of PS 102 in 2010, which is the year that Bloomberg labeled it as a failing public school. Some might say that standardized test scores is not a correct way of measuring but it’s the only way that we have to measure the schools. The low test scores was the argument used by Bloomberg in 2010 to label PS 102 as a failing public school. We will use test scores for comparison, as a result. Here are the most recent test scores of the three schools previously occupied by PS 102.
Bronx Little School (2016/2017 school year)
16% met state standardized test scores in English
23% met state standardized test scores in Math
PS 531 (2016/2017 school year)
24% met state standardized test scores in English
19% met state standardized test scores in Math
PS 536 (2016/2017 school year)
19% met state standardized test scores in English
17% met state standardized test scores in math
Now the test scores of the three schools are all bad. None of the three schools based on test scores seem better than the other. I’m sure you are now eager to see the PS 102 test scores in 2010, the year that Bloomberg ordered the schools closing by labeling it a failing public school. The test scores of PS 102 must certainly be worse than all three, you might be thinking. Well here are the 2010 test scores of PS 102.
25 percent met standardized test scores in English
28 percent met standardized test scores in Math
PS 102 in 2010 had better standardized test scores than ALL three of the schools that is now taking its place. Not one of the three schools Bronx Little School, PS 531, or PS 536 have better scores in English or Math than PS 102. Are you as mad as I am? Now, instead of one large failing public school in one building, we now have three failing public schools that have worse scores than the original school PS 102. The difference in failing public school scores is major especially in math. It is likely that there is now a 50 to 100 student drop off per year in math now that Bloomberg split the school into three schools. Multiply that number by years and it’s a significant hit to that community. This math hit is significant to a community especially for a person that personally believes that STEM careers are potential economic reversers. I’m not a conspiracy theorist so I won’t level any accusations but this is surely horrible.
PS 102 Alumni and Failing Public School Label
Now let’s go into the 2010 PS 102 failing public school label by Michael Bloomberg. In my opinion the only real way that one can label a school as failing would be to look at the schools alumni decades later. Here is the problem, the New York City Public School System does not track its alumni. It has no clue who went where and likely does no statistical analysis on this. What if I told you that PS 102 has doctors, lawyers, and principals as a part of its alumni? I know this as a fact. Bloomberg and the New York City Public School System however would have no way of knowing this because again they do not track who goes on to do what. The only real way to label a school as failing is to look at the data of the schools alumni and students as they matriculate on.
Conclusion on Failing Public Schools
If Bloomberg had told the community in 2010 that he was going to close PS 102 and split it into three schools who ALL will have worse standardized test scores than the original then no one would have gone for it. However, analyzing a full 8 years later, this is essentially what Bloomberg has done. NYC public schools need to reassess its pattern of taking large schools labeling them as failing and breaking them up into smaller schools. Also, a school that has higher math scores than English shouldn’t be on any list for closure to begin with, period.
We need to find ways to improve these schools without splitting them up. I will admit that I haven’t looked at these public school closures on a macro level. I have looked at it on a micro personal level as it relates to my alma mater PS 102. It is my opinion that what happened to PS 102 was completely wrong. There is no disrespect on my part to the three schools that have taken its place. I hope that this article assists school administrators and parents efforts in those three schools towards getting more resources allocated. You have an absolutely valid argument to move forward with.
Do you think closing large public schools and opening up smaller schools in the same building is the right thing to do? Do you know of any other failure or success stories relating to public schools closures?