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Chancellor Pledges to Continue 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.

Today's a big day for public schools in Forest Hills and across the city, do you think Walcott's reforms are making a 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.


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