Lessons from a school closure

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When a school where children thrive emotionally and socially announces its closing, that’s painful news for parents. 

Its may be even more painful for students, who are going to miss their friends, the comforting atmosphere and the caring teachers when the school closes. Seeing or even anticipating their children’s grief makes the situation yet more heart-wrenching for families. 

This is apparently what happened to some students and their parents when the Tech International charter school in Kingsbridge decided to close its doors at the end of the school year. 

The dismay that some parents have expressed at the news engenders much empathy, as well as much concern for the children’s future wellbeing. But there is another issue to consider. 

Tech International has lagged far behind both city and the district averages on academic performance on the state’s math and English tests. During the 2015-2016 academic year, only 13 percent of Tech International students met state standards on New York’s English exams and only 16 percent of students met state standards on the math exam. This compares to the city’s results of 37 percent for English and 32 for math and to the district’s results of 24 percent for English and 20 percent for math during the same period. 

Some of Tech International parents say that performance on the state’s tests is not an accurate reflection of what their children are learning. This may be so, but the state’s tests are a decent predictor of students’ future success in high school and of their chances of getting into college. 

The future wellbeing of today’s children — getting into college, finding an interesting and rewarding job after graduation — is too important to ignore. 

The problem in this case is not so much that Tech International is closing. The problem is that for many parents who chose to send their children to the academically struggling charter school, there seems to be no alternative in the area. The parents feel that no other school in the area can offer their children a nurturing environment, strong academic instruction and high-quality learning. 

And this is a major problem that the Education Department needs to address — and resolve — immediately. Children cannot wait years for better schools to appear. 

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