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Schools Chancellor Walcott Promises to Continue with Major Reforms

Opening 55 new schools and rearranging special needs students are some of Dennis Walcott's ambitious reform ideas.

Schools chancellor Dennis Walcott promises this year to continue with his ambitious reform agenda – which includes opening new schools, moving special needs students and reaching out to parents, says the New York Daily News.

“The focus I’m looking at for this coming year is deepening what’s taking place as far as our reforms are concerned,” Walcott told the paper.

To do this, the city’s Education Department is opening 55 new schools this year, including 24 charter schools. 160,000 special-needs students will also be moved into mainstream classes, leaving students with the most severe disabilities to be taught separately. Parental outreach is another cornerstone of Walcott’s plan.

The city believes that the reforms have been successful, with the city’s four-year June high school graduation rate jumping from 47 percent in 2005 to nearly 61 percent in 2011, says the Daily News.

A survey from July found that than teachers were, though 94 percent of parents were satisfied with the public school education their children were receiving.

And Walcott does have his fair share of critics, like United Federation of Teachers president Michael Mulgrew, who says that more time spent preparing for tests in schools is ruining the curriculum and that the city’s school-closing policy is tearing apart communities. 

“Making the school system this big political tool does not make it better,” Mulgrew told the paper.

Thursday marks the first full day of school for children in NYC. Do you think Walcott’s reforms are making a real difference? Or, because reforming the city’s schools is such a major task, is it still too soon to tell? Share your thoughts in the comments, especially if you are a parent or teacher yourself.

Lisa September 28, 2012 at 12:22 AM
"160,000 special-needs students will also be moved into mainstream classes" There are only two ways to move special-needs students into mainstream classes: 1. Deny them the services that are mandated BY LAW in their IEP (Individualized Education Program); 2. Discard students' IEPs, with no regard to their actual needs. I have witnessed both. Both are illegal. Neither should be permitted by schools, teachers or parents. The law protects each student's access to education. A student's IEP dictates that access. By ignoring or discarding a student's IEP, we are doing a disservice to the students who need the services, and burdening the mainstream classes with students who cannot learn without the specific services described in their IEP. Lisa Bowstead The Cobble Hill Think Tank http://www.CobbleHillThinkTank.com
BRADY September 28, 2012 at 05:34 AM
Don't worry Lisa ,all the public schools being closed in each neighborhood and reopening as charter schools will take these children on.I mean they will won't they? I hope i don't pay taxes so my local school can tell my child and I no,your not welcome here.because you don't measure up ,Whe're a charter school now, you'll have to find somewhere else, being that it's my childs zoned school they have to take my child right!

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