Wednesday, February 15, 2017

High School Science Instruction Is Given Short Shift By The DOE.

Increasingly, principals who are subject to tight budgets and not fully funded, find different methods to reduce expenses. One of the ways these principals reduce their budget is to cut school staff.  Many schools have no social worker and are usually short guidance counselors in their quest to cut expenses.  Moreover, the schools will try to reduce support personnel like paraprofessionals and school secretaries and try to use much cheaper school aids instead.  However, the favorite tactic that principals use is to push veteran teachers into retirement, either by persuasion or by targeting them, and hire cheaper "newbie" teachers in their place.

Given the above tactics that principals use to reduce expenses, one of their favorite is to reduce Science instruction both for Regents and Advanced Placement courses and save on Science teachers.  The DOE approved and encouraged practice was the byproduct of the terrible 2005 contract that allowed principals to become CEO's and not instructional leaders of their school.

First, NYS Science Regents is based upon five days of instruction and an extra period for laboratory skills. Otherwise, known as a 5-1 program.  Outside of NYC, all school districts in the State run the Regents recommended 5-1 program.  However, thanks to the UFT allowing extra teacher time in the 2005 contract,  the DOE quietly encouraged schools to raise the classroom instruction time to barley meet the time requirement set by the State and make it a 4-1 program.  The DOE and schools knew full well that the few extra minutes of classroom time was only used for reinforcing the day's lesson and not to start a new lesson.  The result was that as the end of the school year approached many Science teachers were under increasing pressure just to finish the curriculum and there was no time for Regents review since there lost 30 days of instruction.  The result was a lower percentage of students passing the Regents and fewer yet who achieved mastery in the course.

Second, few NYC schools follow the College Board's recommendations of double periods daily and no more than 20 students in any Advanced Placement class.  The rule in New York City is to dump up to the contract limit of 34 students in single period Advanced Placement classes.   Is it any wonder that New York City Public School students fair poorly, when compared to the rest of the country?

Finally, it is not all that uncommon to have teachers who are uncertified in the Science they are instructing in.  Even in the elementary and middle schools most schools will have a non-Science teacher trying to teach Science, with usually disastrous results.  Even in the high schools many teachers who teach Regents Earth Science are not certified in the subject.

How does the DOE and school principals get away withm this educational abuse of the student's Science education?  Simple when our union leadership stays so silent on the abuse that you can hear crickets chirping at UFT Headquarters .   Therefore, instead of exposing the Science education travesty in the City schools they are complicit in sweeping the issue under the rug.

You don't need to be rocket scientist to realize that both the DOE and our disconnected union leadership rather ignore the issue than to help students get a quality Science education.  Children last...Always!


Anonymous said...

The school I taught at last year in Harlem, the living environment teacher quit after 6 weeks. It was her second year and decided she could do more useful things with her college degree than put up with b.s. from administration.

There also wasn't an Earth Science teacher for the longest time. Two of the math teachers had to cover Earth Science. When they finally did get an Earth Science teacher, it was mid year. Who they basically treated like garbage since she was outspoken.

And the Living Environment? Went without a teacher until December when they force placed an ATR who straight up told them "I don't want to work here." Man did his best though and got 10 kids to pass the Regents, which sounds low, but considering no students passed the Regents the previous year, it was a significant improvement. He was rated ineffective.

Jaycexo said...

I agree with this, I'm a first year teacher for Living Environment and Earth Science. I know nothing about Earth science, am learning it myself and have little to no support with the science content. I am doing a disservice to the students because I have no idea what I am doing, have no help, and am teaching a subject I barely know.