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Proposed NYC School Closings Have Parents Furious

Classroom (file / credit: clipart.com)

Classroom (file / credit: clipart.com)

NEW YORK (CBSNewYork) – The Department of Education wants to shut down more than a dozen schools, calling them “low performing,” but critics say it’s the city and school leaders who deserve a failing grade.

The Choir Academy of Harlem has a rich history, but a dreary future.

The well-known conservatory is among at least 17 schools the city plans to close or phase out, meaning they will no longer admit new students to cut down one grade level a year until they close.

P.T.A. President Elizabeth Porter said she has been fielding messages from furious parents since the city’s plan was announced.

“We’re angry,” Porter said. “We wish they would leave our kids alone. They’re disrupting the education process. Instead of helping the school, they’re eliminating the school.”

This summer, M.S. 45 and Freedom Academy will shut down.

The others will be closed over three or four years, including the sizable Sheepshead Bay and Lehman high schools.

“Our goal is to make sure our students have quality choices and options,” Schools Chancellor Dennis Walcott said. “We’re not trying to scare anyone. We’re trying to raise the standards of performance.”

DOE officials looked at several factors to come up with the list, including standardized test scores, graduation rates and classroom environments.

Parents said shutting down schools will not improve any of those and may even make the situation worse for their kids.

“It really sends a bad message to them, to start all over, get used to a new environment,” parent Deidra White said.

The United Federation of Teachers blames Mayor Michael Bloomberg and said the city failed to provide enough resources to help troubled schools.

“When a school struggles, you send in more high need students and give it no support. I’ve never gotten that answer why the contradiction in the different ways of dealing with this issue,” UFT President Michael Mulger said.

Under the Bloomberg administration, 140 city schools have closed and nearly 600 new ones have opened.

“He keeps cutting the schools, blaming the teachers, but he’s not coming up with any solid answers,” Mulgrew said.

In March, a panel will vote on whether to close the schools on the recommended list.