Sunday, June 26, 2016
How High Schools Hurt Students In The DOE's Education On The Cheap Policy.
Sometime during the tenure of Joel Klein, a nameless bureaucrat at Tweed realized that high schools could save on Science teachers by reducing Science instruction from 5 days to 4 days a week by making the laboratory requirement part of the 5 day instructional week instead as a extra period. At first, many high schools resisted this approach as they realized that the loss of a month's instructional time would result in a significant reduction in the school's Regents passing rate which is based upon a 5-1 program. However, as the recession deepened and schools saw their budget cut by an average of 14% (86% of fair student funding with some large comprehensive schools only at 82%), gradually and somewhat reluctantly schools adopted the 4-1 Science program. First, it was only for Living Environment and Earth Science but eventually many schools extended it to Chemistry and even Physics. The result was, as expected, a much lower passing percentage on the Regents.
Some schools have resisted this trend and keep the traditional 5-1 Science program such as Hillcrest, John Bowne, and Goodard high schools but they are in the minority. However, as the schools are expected to get more money (92% of fair student funding), maybe the schools will realize the importance of going back to a 5-1 program and hire Science teachers to fill these positions while improving student academic achievement.
Over the last few years principals would dole out a "sixth period" to Science and Special Education teachers since DOE Central would pay for the "sixth period" class since these subjects were considered a "shortage area". Schools soon realized how DOE Central would end up paying for all the "sixth period" classes by giving a Science or Special Education teacher an elective course or making a Math or Social Studies teacher a Science class or ICT class. According to my sources, the DOE has finally gotten wise to what the schools are doing and starting next school year, the DOE will no longer fund a "sixth period" class, forcing Principals to either pay for them out of their own budget or hire more teachers. Some but not all schools will opt to do the right thing for the students and hire more teachers certified in the subject rather than dump a "sixth period " on other teachers.
Maybe the idiots at Tweed and our disconnected union leadership will realize that the ATR pool contains many qualified teachers in both Science and Special Education and they would be a valuable addition to schools who are trying to improve student academic achievement rather than continuing the destructive "education on the cheap" policies. However, I'm not holding my breath.