City Council Endorses School Turnaround Zone

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The New York City Council passed a resolution this week unanimously endorsing the proposed School Turnaround Zone (STZ), a strategy designed to help struggling schools improve their performance and avoid closure.

Developed by the parent-led Coalition for Educational Justice, the STZ would integrate school-improvement strategies with strong leadership, giving schools three years ‘in the zone’ to demonstrate progress.

The STZ also has the support of Council speaker Christine Quinn and Public Advocate Bill DeBlasio. But the decision whether to adopt it ultimately rests with the Department of Education (DOE), which is independent of the City Council.

If adopted, the STZ would represent a significant departure from the DOE’s current approach to struggling schools. To date, the DOE has closed 91 schools and is attempting to obtain court approval to shutter 19 more.

Schools Chancellor Joel Klein has met with education advocates to discuss the STZ proposal, and has referred the matter to Deputy Chancellor Marc Sternberg, says Megan Hester, spokesperson for the Council for Educational Justice.

DOE spokesman Jack Zarin-Rosenfeld would not comment directly on the Council’s resolution.

In an email to City Limits, he repeated verbatim an earlier response to City Limits’ inquiries about the STZ: “President Obama agrees that in order to prepare all of our children for college and the workplace, it is critical that we turn around our lowest performing schools. This can include, in some cases, transformation. We will continue to engage parents and community leaders as we work to turn around our lowest performing schools, win federal dollars for our students, and build on the progress we’ve made in improving student outcomes.”