Our failing education system

To The Editor:

I am a guidance counselor at one of the 24 New York City schools unjustly slated for closure at the end of the school year. We are very frustrated with the censorship on this topic. There is only one perspective being perpetuated in the media on every channel except NY1. Newspaper articles are repeating the facts of the case from the perspective of the DOE. When mentioning the hundreds of thousands in opposition, the commentary stops at just that. “Teachers are upset” or “the UFT is upset” or “Students are protesting”, etc… No one is pointing out the obvious.

Twenty-four schools, four distinct boroughs, 24 distinct bodies of students in need of extra support in immigrant and minority neighborhoods, 1000’s of talented and dedicated educators and ONE FAILING SYSTEM. There are two things that they all have in common: The DOE’s failed policies and the demographic of students. You do the math.

What has happened to democracy in NYC? Local and state politictions across the state are up in arms. The borough representatives, the community, students and parents. No real commentary on that from the media. All they hear is Bloomberg and his puppets saying, teachers are failing students, the UFT is mad.

No mention of the city’s ineffective policies on discipline and the joke that suspensions have become.

No mention on how difficult it is to have dangerous/disruptive and even violent students in the schools involuntarily transferred.

No mention of how the systems in place to deal with truancy have failed and the government agencies in place to address them are ineffective (ACS on Education Neglect, PINS petitions at Family Court).

No mention on how the DOE has failed to implement remediation programs at the junior high level to help to produce high school ready students.

No mention of the fact that English language acquisition may mean students take longer to graduate. We are all being rated on our four-year graduation rates but the City is not taking fairly enough into account the fact that truancy, suspensions, English Language Learners, students with disabilities, literacy level, socioeconomic status, social-emotional issues, etc., are harsh realities in all these neighborhoods and that the majority of these students will need extra time to meet NYC graduation requirements.

Changing the names of the school and playing musical chairs with teachers are not going to solve the problem of low acheivement. There is a happy medium out there. Fund the schools, support them, use demographics sensitive criteria to rate these schools, adjust the city’s failing policies and develop a teacher evaluation method that is more accurate and thorough so that the 10 percent of low performing eduators can be identified and either supported or dealt with accordingly.

This “turnaround model” is disregarding and disrespectful of the students and the relationships they have formed with their teachers, counselors, coaches, club and team leaders, mentors in their second home and in some cases, their only real sense of family. The senior and junior class of students will be thrust into the chaos and uncertainty that this “turnaround model” promises and it is not fair. This is not the time for them to be experiencing any form of uncertainty. Not with college applications, scholarship applications, SAT and ACT exams to take, letters of recommendations, guidance and mentorship through the process and even the celebration of their acheivements. They deserve better consideration.

Is there anyone out there that will help us get this message across? The current problems will be perpetutated in the new schools if the city fails to address these issues. We need your help in bringing the public’s attention to these issues. Our hope is to effect change in these areas. Please help.

Ms. S. Williams,

Guidance Counselor

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