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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 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, according to 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. A total 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 Education Department 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, the Daily News reports.

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

And Walcott does have his fair share of critics, such as 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 believe 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.

Harriet Brown September 07, 2012 at 04:19 PM
This plan will harm children with special needs. Instead of getting the nurturing, more indivualized instruction that they need, many children with special needs will be put into mainstream classes. Some will be unable to keep up, so their teacher will be called "failing". Some will be discipline problems; getting suspended or getting into all sorts of trouble. Some have special physical problems, with a regular teacher having to do nursing chores. Not all change is for the better. This certainly isn't.

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