Mayor Bill de Blasio promised to “shake the foundations of New York City education” in 2014 with a new program called Renewal, a signature effort to improve the city’s 94 poorest-performing schools by showering them with millions of dollars in social services and teacher training.
A year later, aides raised a confidential alarm: About a third of those schools were likely to fail. The schools were not meeting goals that the city set for higher test scores, increased graduation rates and other academic measures — and probably never would, staff members in the Department of Education warned in an internal memo prepared for the mayor.
“In order for these schools to reach their targets for 2017, the interventions would need to produce truly exceptional improvements,” read the December 2015 memo, a copy of which was obtained by The New York Times. “Historically, it has been quite rare for schools to improve that much in two years.”
Mr. de Blasio kept most of the schools open. Now, after sending thousands of children into classrooms that staff members suspected were doomed from the start, the administration appears ready to give up on Renewal. Its cost: $773 million by the end of this school year.