Saturday, January 30, 2010
Student "X" And The Closing Of The Large High Schools.
The Bloomberg/Klein strategy of closing down the large public high schools have accelerated lately as the PEP approved closing down a record 19 schools earlier this week, despite thousands of parents, students, and teachers who protested and spoke against their closings.Previously, I have commented on how the destructive policies of the DOE has led to the downfall of the once world renowned Jamaica High School. However, what about the "at risk" students that are the reason for the downfall in the first place? This story is about one such student know as student "X".
Student "X" was an English Language Learner (ELL) student who came from the Caribbean with only his mother and three other siblings. His mother worked hard but had little time to monitor her children's academic progress. Student "X", besides being an ELL student was struggling academically and occasionally lashed out and was labeled as having a behaviour problem. An aunt tried to enroll him in a charter school only to be told that his mother did not put him into the lottery. Next, the aunt tried a new small school in her neighborhood but once the Principal saw the child's record that he needed academic as well as behavioral intervention she told the Aunt that her school cannot provide the services that a large school can. The Aunt reluctantly enrolls the child in the large neighborhood school with large class sizes and finds that her nephew is just one of many "at risk" students at the school. The elementary school did its best to provide the services to student "X" but as he entered the middle school he was an "at risk"student and even as his Aunt managed to have student "X"s mother enter a lottery for a new charter school, the charter school interviewed the mother and student "X" and convinced the mother her son cannot get the proper academic services that her son required.
Student "X" struggled through his middle school years but thanks to the teachers and the increasingly dumbed down New York State tests, student "X" was tested as a low grade "2" and was promoted into the high school, despite not being able to do high school work. The Aunt realized that her nephew, student "X", really needed to be in a small school setting and was able by force of will to enroll him ion one of those small collegiate schools. However, once the school staff realized that student "X" did not meet their unofficial criteria of being college bound, they convinced the mother that it was better for her child to go to the large neighborhood school to get the behavioral and academic services student "X" required. The Aunt was upset but the clueless mother was fooled into accepting the transfer.
Student "X", once again found himself with many other students like him. Most of his peers had struggled throughout their school years and many of them could not pass even the introductory Regents such as Living Environment, Algebra, and Global History. Like student "X" most of his high school friends were ELL students and had problems academically and/or behaviorally. In fact, student "X"s high school seemed populated with "at risk" students and despite the efforts of the school staff, many of these students will not be able to graduate because of their accumulated deficiencies. Now student "X"s high school will be closing down but for him it is far too late. His attendance was poor and he was failing his classes, even the phony "credit recovery program" the Principal put into effect to try to artificially raise the school's graduation rate was not enough. Now student "X", while still officially enrolled in the closing high school, does not attend anymore and is trying to look for a job. However, he has trouble filling out job applications and he has trouble counting despite his level 2 testing status.
Student "X" is the reason that Chancellor Joel Klein and Mayor Michael Bloomberg cite on why our schools are failing. However, it is their deliberate policy of excluding students like student "X" from the small and charter schools that have resulted in too many students like student "X" to be enrolled in the remaining high schools that cause their destabilization and a low graduation rate that eventually puts them on the Chancellor's list for termination.
Bloomberg & Klein caused the problem and they are blaming the schools and closing them instead of fixing the problem they caused. Why don't the newspapers write about that?