Thursday, April 10, 2008

My Philosophy On Why Child Advocates & Lawyers Are Destroying The New York City Public Schools


Educational bloggers and commenters are always trying to brand me with a political label. My friend, nyc educator thinks I am a right wing Republican while others (remember no slappz, & nyc parent?) have accused me of being a left wing Democrat. My philosophy is that of an independent thinker in action and deed. I can easily support Obama or McCain, who appeal to the independent voter like myself. My independent streak extends to our union. I am not a member of any of the caucuses, Unity, ICE, or TJC. However, I do have many ideas and will be happy to share them with you. My biggest complaint is how two special interests groups are destroying the New York City public schools.

The greatest problem with the New York City public school system are the influences of "child advocates and lawyers" . The "child advocates" have allowed the student to weld tremendous power and any disciplining of the student by the teacher can result in the teacher being brought up on charges. Further the "child advocates" mistakenly believe that all children can pass academic tests, if only the quality of teaching was better. The result is increasingly frustrated students who, instead of being put into a vocational setting, are dumped into an academic program that they have little chance to succeed in. The New York City public school system has responded to the "child advocates" by limiting the vocational schools and programs for these students. An example of this is Thomas Edison High School, once a vocational school that catered to students who were good with their hands, like an auto mechanic or technician. Presently, Thomas Edison is recruiting the mechanical and electrical engineer types rather than the vocational student. The auto mechanic student is relegated to either the few remaining and overcrowded vocational schools or an academic high school.

The "lawyers" who increasingly reside in the upper reaches of the central bureaucracy have responded to the "child advocates" by imposing regulations to make it difficult to discipline students while making it easy to discipline the teacher. A good example of this is the verbal abuse/corporal punishment part of the regulations. A student can curse or threaten a teacher and the worst that will happen to that student is a three day removal from the teacher's classroom. Even a physical assault will not suspend the student for more than a month or two. On the other hand if a teacher is alleged to have verbally belittled or embarrassed the student such as telling the student "your a liar" can get that teacher removed from the classroom for years and subject to termination. Why such a discrepancy between the student and teacher discipline codes? The lawyers are afraid that parents , encouraged by "child advocates" would sue. Therefore, it is easier to remove the teacher than discipline the student. What about the collateral damage done by the removal of the teacher to his/her students? That factor does not seem to be part of the equation. To the "lawyers" the removal of the teacher based upon a student allegation is more important than the academic well-being of the rest of the students. Is it any wonder that based upon national tests and State Regents that little academic progress has been attained since 2003?

I am not naive, I do know that there are many other factors that affect the New York City education system. However, in my opinion it is these two special interest groups "child advocates" and "lawyers" that makes teaching and learning so difficult for student and teacher alike.

4 comments:

17 (really 15) more years said...

Some of the things that our 8th graders say to administrators is deplorable. Yet, nothing is done- occasionally, the kid will get a day of detention, which means absolutely nothing to any of our kids.

Can you imagine where I'd be sitting right now if I said to my AP "Who the hell do you think you are?", like one of my students did?

Socrates said...

I don't usually agree with you but man, you've hit the nail on the head with this one. Child advocacy has gotten as out of control as the unions have. Both are necessary in order to protect those who can't protect themselves, but both have become such extreme versions of their intended selves that we're better off scrapping them and starting over with a new system altogether. There's not a kid in my school who doesn't think they can get the teacher in trouble for absolutely anything, and it diminishes our authority as educators.

Anonymous said...

I thought the amazing Joel Klein was running, and has been running, the schools for 6 years. How could this happen under such benevalent leadership?

Socrates said...

Well, Mr. Klein does not run ACS, nor does he run our legal system. Are you going to blame traffic gridlock and a slow postal service on him, too?