Deputy Mayor for Education Dennis M. Walcott (c.) and New York Schools Chancellor Cathie Black.
More than 3,100 New York City public school students struggled to come to terms yesterday with the Panel for Educational Policy’s decision to close or phase out 10 NYC schools. The schools which include four in Manhattan, four in the Bronx, and two in Brooklyn are all being closed because of poor performance.
With a failing school system and the recent resignation of former School’s Chancellor Richard Klein, Mayor Michael Bloomberg has been left to address the city’s education dilemma. With his non-conventional ideas of treating everything in NYC as a business and the current appointment of Cathie Black as School Chancellor, it has left many thinking whose interest is he really serving. How can a woman with no education experience effectively turn around the city’s educational system? This is the question that many asked when Cathie Black was selected for the city’s highest educational position and despite the opposition to her appointment she now has the future of our public school system in her hands.
I, for one, am having a difficult time understanding how closing schools only to replace them with a bunch of smaller ones will benefit anyone. All that is doing is shifting the problem instead of dealing with the root cause because the students and the teachers will still be the same.
There has to be an initiative to hire better teachers. Not saying that all teachers in the current system are bad, I realize that many of them don’t have the adequate resources needed to do their job effectively but resources is only part of the problem. We need teachers that care. Not teachers that show up, do the minimum necessary just to collect a check and then go home.
The last in, first out policy for firing teachers during times of budgetary cuts also has to be re-evaluted. It is outdated and simply moronic. We need to keep the best teachers and get rid of the bad apples regardless of how long they have been teaching.
I grew up during a time where the teachers cared about you and your success. They called your house when they noticed a change in your academic work. They paid attention to you so they knew when something wasn’t right with you. They made you feel like you mattered and so you felt like somebody cared about you and your success.
I understand that teachers are there to teach and not play the role of a parent but sometimes they have to. Sometimes the teacher is the only person a student may have to push them forward and show them that their life is worth something. Growing up in New York City is tough and the reality is that some parents just don’t care enough to make their children’s education a priority.
Therefore, if you have parents that don’t care and teachers that don’t care what real chance does that child have at achieving any success? When you add to that all of these school closures it leaves kids feeling like failures because they haven’t performed up to academic standards. But whose fault is that? It’s easy to point fingers but it’s everyone’s fault. It is the failing system that we have in place. It’s the parents that don’t take a more active role in helping their child succeed. It’s also the teachers that feel that these kids are hopeless and helpless so they don’t even bother.
They close these schools and with these closures take from the students any glimmer of hope they may have had for succeeding. I came across a young person’s take on these closures/phase-outs and I think she did a great job at articulating what these school closures mean to those that it affects the most, the students.
Below is 18 yr old Melisson Kisson’s thoughts on school closures and how it affected her personally.
“I was victim of a high school phase out. Do you know what it’s like to have four new schools come into your school building?
The first year after the Department of Education announced that my school, Franklin K. Lane High School in Brooklyn, would be closed, we weren’t allowed to set foot on the fourth floor anymore. The next year, the DOE split the rest of the floors in halves. So, if your classroom was around the corner, you could no longer just walk over to your room. You’d have to go upstairs and around and back down stairs to make it to your class. As a result of this, many students were late for their classes. Students missed class time and got in trouble because our school was chopped up and our building was divided!
The great teachers we once loved either switched to the other schools in the building or left. There is no longer a library in the building, because Lane doesn’t have enough money for a library and the other four schools have small budgets. Students with essays due and no printer or computer can’t print—then they struggle to figure out how to pass their class.
Almost all the after school activities belong to the other schools, including the sports and the ROTC. Two of my friends are in their last year at Lane. One of them is only taking one academic class. He scored well on his SAT and is applying to Brown University but there are no Advanced Placement classes for him to take and he is done with school every day at noon. My other friend was told last year that he had enough credits to graduate. He was 16, a junior and not ready for college. There is a difference between having enough credits to graduate, getting a rigorous education, and being prepared for college.
The phase out has failed us all, hundreds of us in Brooklyn and thousands of us in New York City. I was a cheerleader, so school pride was important to me. There is no longer school pride, there is no encouragement, there are no familiar teachers, there are no resources to help us pass. All that remains is a push, a push out of the school by any means possible.
I graduated and I’m in college now, at City Tech. But I look back at the last four years of my life and I feel robbed of my high school experience. My school was no longer MY school; I was basically being kicked out of a school that made a promise to support me and give me all I need to pass. If the Department of Education is truly committed to students, they must include us in decisions about OUR education.”
The above was originally published on http://insideschools.org/blog/2011/01/31/a-students-view-how-not-to-close-a-school/