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Can community input save failing New York schools?

Sep 27, 2015 12:02 am
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Nia Hamm at Public News Service reports that New York state education officials are hoping a 10-day stretch of public hearings will give them the input they need for a big turnaround at 62 struggling New York City schools. The schools are part of a larger list of failing schools in the state that, under a new law, could be taken over by outside managers if they don't improve soon. Marina Marcou-O'Malley, policy director for the Alliance for Quality Education of New York, said her organization was never in favor of the so-called "receivership" legislation, but added that she's hopeful more community involvement can spur action on such issues as chronic school underfunding. "All of these schools are located in low-income areas, in areas that have low-income students, high-need students that require a number of different programs and a lot of resources," she said. "The state has never adequately funded these schools." The receivership legislation, passed earlier this year, gives 144 failing schools one year to show improvement or face being taken over by an outside manager. The schools all rank in the bottom 5 percent of state schools in terms of academic performance. Lisa Rudley, co-founder of Allies for Public Education, said she doesn't think the receivership program is the answer. She agreed that underfunding is a huge issue, but said socioeconomic issues also are hurting many failing schools - which are in need of additional assistance the new law doesn't address. "Community schools, where they have health services, their children are able to have more after-school programs," she said. "I mean, don't forget - in New York state, there has been a budget crisis across all school districts." Under the new law, failing schools must post gains at the end of a year, some even sooner, or they will be taken over by a receiver who will restructure the school. The state has set aside $75 million for the 144 New York schools affected by the receivership program. Information about the receivership legislation is online at governor.ny.gov.
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