Tuesday, February 07, 2012
Does The DOE Really Dump "Low Achieving Students" Into The Large Struggling Schools? You Better Believe That They Do!
I am now in one of those large struggling schools that Mayor Bloomberg has threatened to make a "turnaround school" and eliminate 50% or more of the teaching staff. However, unlike the real "closing schools" the Mayor and his poodle the Chancellor wants to retain the students and the Administration, To me it appears to be a bluff or a sham. I personally don't believe he can do this and if he tried it will probably end up in court. The real question is how did these schools end up struggling in the first place? Much of the cause can be blamed on the DOE's policy that eliminated neighborhood high schools and that allows many of the small and themed schools to exclude students with disabilities, attendance issues, and behavior problems forcing these already struggling students to travel long distances to schools that already struggle with an increasingly challenged student population.
My school is located in Northern Queens and mass transit to the school is somewhat limited. However, when I was going over the address lists of my students I was shocked how many of them came from far Southeastern Queens. I even had one from Far Rockaway! Not surprisingly many of these students travel two hours or longer to get to school and are having trouble academically achieving success. I wonder why? I spoke to two of those students, I will call them "Jack and Jill". They informed me that none of the small schools at Campus Magnet and Springfield Gardens would accept them. "Jack" admitted to me that he hung around with the "wrong crowd" and didn't show up to the middle school all the time and his grades reflected it. "Jill" told me that she was an 'English Language Learner" in middle school and she had a tough time learning English and was placed in an English speaking class with only a hour of language training a week. Therefore, she did poorly on tests. I'm sure if I asked the others, the ones who show up, I would get similar responses. "Jack's" mother even went to the local District Office when no school selected him and was told to reapply to the large high schools in Queens since that was his best chance and he ended up traveling over two hours each way, to get to school. "Jill's" parents simply did as was told by her middle school and she ended in a school that makes her take two buses and a train and takes almost two hours to get to school. Is it any wonder that many of these children are sleepy, tired, frustrated, and feel abandoned by the school system? What responsible entity forces struggling students who had problems in their middle schools to travel long distances and in the dark just to go to a high school that accepts them? Yet that is what the DOE does as they eliminated zoning for the neighborhood high schools and sentenced many of the most vulnerable students to long commutes and dangerous conditions just to get an education.
I am sick and tired of hearing and reading the propaganda on how the Bloomberg /Walcott Administration is improving the schools when the truth is quite the opposite. In fact, they are leaving many struggling students behind. While the DOE's slogan may say "children first" their actions show that the all the struggling children are being left behind in their "children last" policy.