New York

Fourteen city schools land on state review list

Fourteen New York City schools landed on the state’s list of “schools under registration review,” the state education department announced today.

That’s down four from last year, after three city schools were added to the list this year but seven schools were removed. Schools are placed on the SURR list if their English and math scores on state exams are farthest from a state-set standard, prompting the threat of closure if the schools do not improve.

The three schools added to the list this year are all high schools, Washington Irving High School, the School for Global Studies and the Grace H. Dodge Career and Technology High School. All seven of the city schools removed from the list are elementary and middle schools.

“The SURR process has served New York well, particularly in terms of improving English and math results in the lowest performing elementary and middle schools,” State Education Commissioner David Steiner said in a statement. “Now we must align SURR with the process we’ve created for identifying and helping the Persistently Lowest Achieving schools. Doing so will focus greater attention on those schools that have had unacceptably low graduation rates for many years.”

The state’s list of “persistently lowest achieving” schools, which it announced in January, singled out the bottom 5 percent of schools to target for replacement or closure. Nearly 60 schools statewide — primarily high schools with low graduation rates — landed on that list, including 34 New York City schools.

The SURR list is much smaller, and includes a higher percentage of low-performing elementary and middle schools. Currently, 29 schools throughout the state have SURR status, the lowest number since the program began in 1989.

Beginning next year, state education officials said, schools will be given SURR status if their combined reading and math scores place them among the lowest in the state. Graduation rates will also be added as a factor in determining SURR status for high schools.

State education officials said those changes would likely mean a large increase in the number of schools placed on the SURR list next year.

Of the 14 city schools currently on the SURR list, four are in the process of closing. Three schools that would have been newly placed on the SURR list this year — Robeson, Columbus and Maxwell High Schools — were omitted because of the city’s recent decision to phase them out.

Several of the city schools that remain on the SURR list have recently performed well on the city’s accountability measurements. Three of the schools, P.S. 230, P.S. 12 and the West Bronx Academy for the Future, all received A’s on their most recent progress report cards. P.S. 230 received a $165,000 bonus and P.S. 12 received a $135,000 bonus based on their scores.

Chancellor Joel Klein praised the city for reducing its number of schools on the SURR list from 77 when Mayor Michael Bloomberg assumed control of the school system, and he attributed that drop to the mayor’s policies.

“Due to the dramatic actions we’ve taken – including phasing out failing schools and replacing them with high quality schools that students want to attend – we now have fewer SURR schools in New York City than ever before,” Klein said in a statement. “Today’s announcement is yet another sign of the tremendous progress we’re making to prepare students for college and the workplace.”

Here are the New York City schools currently on the SURR list. The complete list of schools in the state and the list of schools removed from the SURR list this year are available here.



Washington Irving High School 310200011460


Newly Identified – Group 17


New Explorers High School 320700011547


Corrective Action – Group 16 (Closing)


MS 424 – Hunts Point School 320800010424


MS 201 closed in June 2007 and was replaced by MS 424, which has assumed its SURR status.


PS 230 320900010230


Corrective Action – Group 16


MS 399 321000010399


Corrective Action –  Closing (6/2012)


Grace H Dodge Career and Technical High School 321000011660


Newly Identified – Group 17


West Bronx Academy for the Future 321000011243


Corrective Action – Group 16


School for Global Studies 331500011429


Newly Identified – Group 17


Boys and Girls High School 331600011455


Corrective Action – Group 16


Canarsie HS 331800011500


Corrective Action – Group 14 (Closing 6/2011)


Franklin K. Lane 331900011420


Fourth Year Redesign – Group 10 (Closing 6/2012)


Bushwick Community HS 333200010564


Corrective Action- Group 15


Far Rockaway 342700011465


Third Year Redesign – Group 12 (Closing 6/2011)


PS 12 307500012012


Corrective Action – Group 13A

School safety

Hiring more security officers in Memphis after school shootings could have unintended consequences

PHOTO: Jahi Chikwendiu/The Washington Post/Getty Images

Tennessee’s largest district, Shelby County Schools, is slated to add more school resource officers under the proposed budget for next school year.

Superintendent Dorsey Hopson earmarked $2 million to hire 30 school resource officers in addition to the 98 already in some of its 150-plus schools. The school board is scheduled to vote on the budget Tuesday.

But an increase in law enforcement officers could have unintended consequences.

A new state law that bans local governments from refusing to cooperate with federal immigration officials could put school resource officers in an awkward position.

Tennessee Education Commissioner Candice McQueen recently reminded school personnel they are not obligated to release student information regarding immigration status. School resource officers employed by police or sheriff’s departments, however, do not answer to school districts. Shelby County Schools is still reviewing the law, but school board members have previously gone on the record emphasizing their commitment to protecting undocumented students.

“Right now we are just trying to get a better understanding of the law and the impact that it may have,” said Natalia Powers, a district spokeswoman.

Also, incidents of excessive force and racial bias toward black students have cropped up in recent years. Two white Memphis officers were fired in 2013 after hitting a black student and wrestling her to the ground because she was “yelling and cussing” on school grounds. And mothers of four elementary school students recently filed a lawsuit against a Murfreesboro officer who arrested them at school in 2016 for failing to break up a fight that occurred off-campus.

Just how common those incidents are in Memphis is unclear. In response to Chalkbeat’s query for the number and type of complaints in the last two school years, Shelby County Schools said it “does not have any documents responsive to this request.”

Currently, 38 school resource officers are sheriff’s deputies, and the rest are security officers hired by Shelby County Schools. The officers respond and work to prevent criminal activity in all high schools and middle schools, Hopson said. The 30 additional officers would augment staffing at some schools and for the first time, branch out to some elementary schools. Hopson said those decisions will be based on crime rates in surrounding neighborhoods and school incidents.

Hopson’s initial recommendation for more school resource officers was in response to the school shooting in Parkland, Florida, that killed 17 people and sparked a wave of student activism on school safety, including in Memphis.

Gov. Bill Haslam’s recent $30 million budget boost would allow school districts across Tennessee to hire more law enforcement officers or improve building security. Measures to arm some teachers with guns or outlaw certain types of guns have fallen flat.

For more on the role and history of school resource officers in Tennessee, read our five things to know.

Sheriff’s deputies and district security officers meet weekly, said Capt. Dallas Lavergne of the Shelby County Sheriff’s Office. When the Memphis Police Department pulled their officers out of school buildings following the merger of city and county school systems, the county Sheriff’s Office replaced them with deputies.

All deputy recruits go through school resource officer training, and those who are assigned to schools get additional annual training. In a 2013 review of police academies across the nation, Tennessee was cited as the only state that had specific training for officers deployed to schools.

call out

Our readers had a lot to say in 2017. Make your voice heard in 2018.

PHOTO: Chris Hill/Whitney Achievement School
Teacher Carl Schneider walks children home in 2015 as part of the after-school walking program at Whitney Achievement Elementary School in Memphis. This photograph went viral and inspired a First Person reflection from Schneider in 2017.

Last year, some of our most popular pieces came from readers who told their stories in a series that we call First Person.

For instance, Carl Schneider wrote about the 2015 viral photograph that showed him walking his students home from school in a low-income neighborhood of Memphis. His perspective on what got lost in the shuffle continues to draw thousands of readers.

First Person is also a platform to influence policy. Recent high school graduate Anisah Karim described the pressure she felt to apply to 100 colleges in the quest for millions of dollars in scholarships. Because of her piece, the school board in Memphis is reviewing the so-called “million-dollar scholar” culture at some high schools.

Do you have a story to tell or a point to make? In 2018, we want to give an even greater voice to students, parents, teachers, administrators, advocates and others who are trying to improve public education in Tennessee. We’re looking for essays of 500 to 750 words grounded in personal experience.

Whether your piece is finished or you just have an idea to discuss, drop a line to Community Editor Caroline Bauman at

But first, check out these top First Person pieces from Tennesseans in 2017:

My high school told me to apply to 100 colleges — and I almost lost myself in the process

“A counselor never tried to determine what the absolute best school for me would be. I wasted a lot of time, money and resources trying to figure that out. And I almost lost myself in the process.” —Anisah Karim     

Why I’m not anxious about where my kids go to school — but do worry about the segregation that surrounds us

“In fact, it will be a good thing for my boys to learn alongside children who are different from them in many ways — that is one advantage they will have that I did not, attending parochial schools in a lily-white suburb.” —Mary Jo Cramb

I covered Tennessee’s ed beat for Chalkbeat. Here’s what I learned.

“Apathy is often cited as a major problem facing education. That’s not the case in Tennessee.” —Grace Tatter

I went viral for walking my students home from school in Memphis. Here’s what got lost in the shuffle.

“When #blacklivesmatter is a controversial statement; when our black male students have a one in three chance of facing jail time; when kids in Memphis raised in the bottom fifth of the socioeconomic bracket have a 2.6 percent chance of climbing to the top fifth — our walking students home does not fix that, either.” —Carl Schneider

I think traditional public schools are the backbone of democracy. My child attends a charter school. Let’s talk.

“It was a complicated choice to make. The dialogue around school choice in Nashville, though, doesn’t often include much nuance — or many voices of parents like me.” —Aidan Hoyal

I grew up near Charlottesville and got a misleading education about Civil War history. Students deserve better.

“In my classroom discussions, the impetus for the Civil War was resigned to a debate over the balance of power between federal and state governments. Slavery was taught as a footnote to the cause of the war.” —Laura Faith Kebede