Sunday, July 5, 2009


At the Working Family Parties Forum for mayoral candidates on July 2, Councilmember Tony Avella was asked this question: "What is your plan to turnaround failing schools?"

Avella: “I am absolutely not a fan of charter schools and I never have been. The whole reason they came about is because the regular public schools were failing . . . Why did we come up with another system, why not fix the schools that are failing?"

Avella hit the nail on the head with this statement!

I am a teacher in the South Bronx. My school, Adlai E. Stevenson High School, which opened in 1970, closed on June 26, 2009. We were told four years ago that it would close. The last four years have been dreadful for everyone connected with "Stevo." We watched with horror as the beautiful, four-story school was systematically gutted and EIGHT "small" schools were installed, each with its own mission and theme. Shouldn't there be one mission for NYC's public school students? Now we have literally 100's of "missions" all over New York. These small schools also have their own administrative and teaching staffs, guidance counselors, secretaries, equipment, etc, even their own even colors and decor.

How are these schools doing? I haven't examined the statistics; I have only heard Bloomberg throwing them around and touting his success. But from what we teachers observed over the last four years, these "little" schools are not doing so well. I watched our outstanding and highly recognized English Department of almost 40 teachers dwindle as colleagues were hired by these eight schools, retired, or became ATR's (another topic).

I know one or more former Stevenson English teachers in most of the new small schools. NOT ONE of them believes that the education is better in the small school of which he or she is a staff member. There is MUCH MUCH more to be said on this topic.

Let it suffice for now to say that Tony Avella is smart enough to realize that with each large school we gut and replace with many small schools, at mind-boggling cost, we are throwing the baby out with the bath, and things are NOT better, despite all the statistics that Bloomberg throws at you, or whatever Chancellor Joel Klein says.

See Tony Avella speaking out about NYC's education system.

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