The federal Department of Education is investigating the complaints filed against the New York City DOE by the Citywide Council on High Schools who claimed that the small high schools were not getting their fair share of students with disabilities and limited English skills. Obviously, the federal agency found the complaint valid and has proceeded to remedy the discrimination in enrollment practices. Even at a UFT Chapter Leader meeting the State representative stated that she was concerned about the "bias" in assigning students at the high school level.
What did the federal agency find that warrants the investigation? Well, for starters the feds used statistics that are commonly available, like the the typical large high school has a population that consists of 34% of the students with disabilities or have limited English skills. By contrast the typical small schools are limited to 12% of these students and this figure is even lower for the first three years where the small schools are allowed to further "screen out" these students. Moreover, the "not ready for promotion eigth graders" who are promoted anyway are almost always assigned to the large high schools. Finally the small schools use "skimming" to filter out unruly students and select students with involved parents. Talk about discrimination in enrollment practices. Even if you were to believe (I certaintly don't) the DOE filtered statistics, you would still find that the average large high school will have 24% of it's student population made up of special education and limited English proficiency students compared to 16% for the small schools, an 8% difference!
Incredibly, the DOE denies that they discriminate. City DOE council Michael Best claims that there was "no basis for any inappropriate findings". How could Michael Best say this when the chief executive of the DOE's small schools, Garth Harries stated that "a deliberate policy to exclude otherwise eligible students with disabilities (special education) from the small schools during the first three years of each school's existence". I guess if you tell a lie often enough it becomes the truth according to DOE. By the way, people who heard Mr. Harries speech believe that this exclusionary policy appears to also include the limited English proficiency applicants to the small schools.
Is our union aware of the DOE discrimination? Of course they are! Many commenters have brought up the question why the UFT has not challenged the DOE on the discrimination in enrollment practices between the small & large high schools? Why did it take an outside group to complain to the Federal agency about this exclusion policy? The UFT response? Deafening silence! It's as if the union secretly buys into the DOE discrimination. How else is one to think?
It is a pity when our uncaring union collaborates with a lying DOE to screw the teachers and the students of the large high schools in the City.
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