New York City has added an additional 64 schools to a program that offers them the ability to bypass Department of Education and the union rules that prevent them from creating alternative programs.
The announcement will more than double the schools under the plan, called Progressive Redesign Opportunity for Schools of Excellence (PROSE), bringing the total from 62 to 126 in just one year.
Mayor Bill de Blasio discussed the plans earlier this week at the Michael Petrides School on Staten Island, adding that he felt the city could reach its goal of 200 such schools by the end of next year and that he had plans to “keep going” after that. “We’re very, very encouraged so far,” he said. “I think the sky is the limit here.”
Meanwhile, he continued to publicize his opposition to charter schools, which operate in a similar fashion to the PROSE schools. De Blasio explained this by saying that traditional public schools are where most children receive their education, writes Michael Gartland for The New York Post. “Innovation and reform should be the provenence of the public sector,” he said.
The PROSE program allows teachers to work together in an effort to break from the curriculum required by the city in order to create their own, so long as they have the approval of the DOE and the union.
“This is one of the most exciting developments in education in New York City,” Mayor Bill de Blasio said. “The PROSE concept will rewrite our approach to education from the ground up.”
PROSE offers teachers the flexibility to create a longer school day by changing teacher schedules, adding weekend programs, and creating hybrid courses that combine subjects and offer seminar-type courses that are available to students from different grade levels, writes Nicholas Rizzi for DNA Info.
“This is about what teachers want, what they need to discuss with each other,” said Schools Commissioner Carmen Farina. “This is about staff going through many months of discussion and about bringing everybody to the table and not just talking about what you want to do but why you want to do it.”
Teachers within schools who participate in PROSE all have the opportunity to take part in the curriculum creation process and must first vote to approve the school joining the program. A total of 65% of teachers must agree to put an end to union regulations for a school to join the program.
In order to keep tabs on how well the program is doing, several measures will be used by the city, including grades and feedback from parents and teachers.