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Yet another principal at a high-profile city school is exiting the Department of Education.
Janette Cesar, the longtime head of the Talented and Gifted School for Young Scholars in Manhattan, is retiring at the end of the month.
“I have dedicated the past thirty-six years to the education of students, families and the community in which I passionately worked,” she wrote in a letter Tuesday. “I have enjoyed each level of commitment and collaboration. However, the time has come to pass the baton and transition to the next phase.”
TAG is one of only five Gifted and Talented campuses that draws kids from across the city and is considered one of the DOE’s best schools.
Amid the coronavirus pandemic and intensifying political battles surrounding screened admissions, the agency has seen departures from some of its most prestigious institutions in recent months.
The principals of Stuyvesant HS, Bronx Science, Beacon HS and New Explorations into Science, Technology and Math have all left the DOE since August.
Some retired while others decamped for the comparative serenity of suburban school districts.
Veteran education consultant Alina Adams said the compounding pressures of serving as a DOE principal are fueling the flight.
“Principals are being given less money, less authority and less control over their own schools,” she said. “While being asked to do more than they ever have. At a certain point you realize that you’ve been given an impossible task and you walk away.”
Adams said that many city principals are coming to grips with the specter of hollowed out budgets next year.
Council of School Supervisors and Administrators President Mark Cannizzaro has sounded the alarm of stifling budget cuts in recent weeks.
He emphasized that funding is tied to enrollment — and reported that 60 percent of all city schools have seen marked drops this year.
Principals at top screened schools have also found themselves entangled in the bruising debate over competitive admissions.
Critics argue that the system benefits kids of means and unfairly cordons off African-American and Latino students.
Backers counter that high numbers of low-income immigrant students populate some of the city’s top schools and that kids should have opportunities for accelerated learning.
After repeated delays, the DOE has pledged to reveal its revamped approach to admissions for next year before the end of the month.
The agency said it will modify the system to account for the impact of the coronavirus on city schools.
Most traditional admissions metrics have been eliminated or changed — including grades and state test scores.
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