The Atlantic

The Convoluted Path to Improving New York City's Schools

New York City has invested millions to help turn around failing schools. Will it payoff?
Source: Meredith Kolodner

NEW YORK — The zone for Public School 67 was drawn exclusively around the sprawling Ingersoll public-housing complex, but as children trudge into the building, they can see the tips of the gleaming glass luxury towers that are reshaping the skyline around them in downtown Brooklyn.

No children from those luxury condos have enrolled in P.S. 67. It has roughly 225 students; 99 percent are low-income. The school has struggled to stem sliding enrollment and to address poor safety ratings by parents and test scores that were among the worst in the city.

In 2012, city officials became convinced that the school could not improve and began the process of shutting it down.

But community members rallied to keep it open, in part because of its auspicious beginnings—it was the first public school for black students in Brooklyn, opening the same year that slavery ended in New York, 1827—and in part because parents weren’t convinced that a new school would solve old problems.

So in the fall of 2015, P.S. 67 began the year with yet another new principal, this time as part of the city’s “Renewal” program, a last-ditch effort to rescue failing schools. And now the community’s wary acquiescence to yet another effort to “fix” the school has morphed into something more elusive: hope.

Enrollment has stabilized, attendance has improved, and parents say they feel welcome in the building.

“This principal is the best we’ve had in a long time, but it’s more than that,” said John Rondon, who has taught at P.S. 67 for 27 years. “There’s something that’s changed internally. The fear we’re going to be closed down isn’t there as much. Somebody said to us, ‘you’re valuable

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