Schools Chancellor Says 50 New Middle Schools on Their Way

By Jill Colvin on September 20, 2011 8:13pm 

Schools Chancellor Dennis Walcott spoke to students at the Spruce Street School Sept. 8, 2011.
Schools Chancellor Dennis Walcott spoke to students at the Spruce Street School Sept. 8, 2011.
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DNAinfo/Julie Shapiro

MIDTOWN — Schools Chancellor Dennis Walcott pledged to open at least 50 new middle schools across the city over the next two years.

At a speech at the New York University Steinhart School of Culture, Education, and Human Development on Tuesday —  his first major policy address since his appointment — Walcott called middle schools “ripe for opportunity."

"Time and time again, in conversations with parents and educators all across the city, one thing constantly comes up: our middle schools," Walcott said.

He said that every year since 2006, students in grades three through five have made steady progress in math and English, but that seventh and eighth graders still lag behind.

He pointed to a host of factors, ranging from raging hormones to first heartbreak to less engaged parents as reasons for the slip.

“Middle schools are rife with challenges. But don’t get me wrong: they are also ripe for opportunity," he said.

Walcott said that the new schools would be a mix of district schools and charter schools, which would be modeled on the city's best performing schools.

He also said the DOE intended to take other steps to boost middle school performance, including a new focus on principal recruitment and the hiring of a new class of teaching fellows to focus on those grades.

The DOE has created more than 500 new schools, including 124 charters, over the past nine years and has shut 117 low-performing schools deemed too troubled to be turned around, he said.

Dennis Walcott speaks to reporters at a teacher training event the day before the first day of school.
Dennis Walcott speaks to reporters at a teacher training event the day before the first day of school.
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DNAinfo/Mary Johnson

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