Archive for June 28th, 2015

Is it time to put large schools back together?

(from the New Action leaflet distributed at the June 2015 UFT Delegate Assembly).
For a printable version click: June June 2015 Leaflet Front

On June 1, 2015, New Action introduced a resolution (here) to consider the circumstances of campus high schools. In the last 15 years many of large high schools have been replaced with campuses of mini-schools, with swarms of administrators.

In swaths of the City, large high schools are gone. Middle schools, 6 – 12 schools, and even elementary schools share space with high schools. Science labs and music rooms are converted to classrooms in one school, while other schools teach chorus in regular rooms and science without labs rooms.

In many campuses there is little interaction between the staffs of mini-schools. School spirit often did not translate well to the campus. Some mini-schools have few tenured teachers – many chapters are weaker, many members do not know their rights, or are afraisd of excersing them. Yet there are positive exceptions.

The resolution called for the UFT to create a committee to look into these circumstances. How can cooperation between schools on a campus be increased? How can a greater sense of community be developed? How can some of our large academic, comprehensive high schools and CTE schools be reconstituted? The resolution also called for the committee to make recommendations to strengthen chapters and support chapter leaders in campus schools.

The resolution was tabled by Unity Caucus.

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Resolution on Academic, Comprehensive, and CTE High Schools

(from the New Action leaflet distributed at the June 2015 UFT Delegate Assembly).
For a printable version click: June 2015 Leaflet back

(click here for more information about this resolution)

Whereas the DOE has closed many academic comprehensive and CTE high schools since the late 1990s and,

Whereas large parts of the city have left students and parents with no large schools to choose and,

Whereas in some cases elementary and middle school students have been placed in schools with high school students and,

Whereas hundreds of small high schools have been created to replace large schools often without replicating the numerous curricular options, services and extra-curricular activities that the large schools once offered and,

Whereas the campus school model has led to the DOE creating multiple administrations in each building leading to increases in cost and bureaucracy, and

Whereas large academic, comprehensive high school buildings were designed and built to accommodate one school, but forcing several schools to share space often leads to poor utilization of the cafeteria, auditorium, gyms, or their use at peculiar and limited times of the day, and

Whereas large academic, comprehensive high school buildings were designed and built with a single wing of science labs, a single wing of music rooms, of art rooms, and other and specialty rooms, leaving those specialty rooms inaccessible to students from small schools once the building has been dissected, and

Whereas in many small schools there are predominantly inexperienced staff members who face serious challenges enforcing the UFT Contract and protecting members’ rights, and

Whereas in a December 4, 2002 UFT Delegate Assembly resolution the UFT affirmed our commitment to “encouraging a variety of educational settings for students and staff,” but decried the lack of foresight and planning, and

Whereas, in May 2005 the UFT’s Small School Task Force issued a groundbreaking report, recommending changes to how small schools are created, and

Whereas the efficacy of using one building to house multiple schools had not been studied or evaluated, be it

Resolved that the UFT should establish a committee which will:

  • Study the efficacy of the campus school model
  • Review the conclusions in the UFT’s Small School Task Force report
  • Determine what options, activities and community experiences have been denied students in campus buildings
  • Determine which campus schools have had some success and why
  • Evaluate the effect of breaking up large schools have had on the UFT Chapters
  • Examine the practices that have enabled some small chapters to address these challenges

and be it further

Resolved, that this committee shall make recommendations, including but not limited to, how to increase cooperation among the schools in a campus, improve the delivery of services to students, develop a greater sense of community and cohesion within the buildings, and/or how to reconstitute some of the large academic, comprehensive and CTE high schools,

And be it further resolved that this committee shall make recommendations for helping strengthen chapters and support chapter leaders in campus schools.