Saturday, September 22, 2012

Dumping Grounds

What a couple of weeks, right?  The strike in Chicago has brought the issue of education to the front page, as  well it should be.  Most of the coverage seemed to address both the specific issues propelling the Chicago teachers as well as the larger picture (privatization), of which we are all fully aware.  Many of the education bloggers have given pointed assessments of the strike and made useful comparisons of the teaching conditions between Chicago and New York. All this action in the arena has been illuminating and helps in understanding how policy plays out in the ongoing battle.

This past week I resembled, for a moment, an open-mouth trout when I learned that my school, which I thought was comprised of a student population of roughly 30% IEP students, instead is expected to educate a population where nearly 75% have IEPs. So, the school has effectively become a dumping ground for struggling students. We all love a challenge but, hey, at least give us a fighting chance.  However, because the overall population decreased, we will now have less money to solve bigger problems.  Add to this, the dimension of havoc brought on by the new NYC school discipline code and the movement to mainstream.   I can begin to see the not-so-invisible forces that are behind the deconstruction of what was once our model school.  We are told that the school's future will be announced by December.  None of this bodes well.

Now a word from Where the Rubber Hits the Road.  I can remember when I was a student at P.S 76 in the Bronx, how every Friday morning we had a school assembly.  Each class column-marched to the auditorium and took their seats in their class row. Once everyone was seated, the Color Guard, made up of students carrying the flags of country, state and city, marched down the center aisle.  I remember, as a Color Guard, the neat leather holster we used to help hold the flag pole as we proudly marched before the assembly.  Okay, okay.  I am making this observation because this is the second year that my school has not held a single school assembly.  I happen to think that at least a weekly general assembly is a great tool in creating a school spirit and school's unity in purpose.  To not have an assembly is to miss an opportunity to address a myriad of topics, from current events to class based projects, with the class body.  You can remind the kids on a daily basis what their goals are, or how they can achieve what they want in life. You can reinforce the importance of education and the role of the teachers in the school and the necessity for respect. Encourage them to work every day to keep up with assignments and to be active learners.  You can have the school bands show their stuff, the poets can read, the video/computer kids can show their videos, and on and on. This is what we could do, and it doesn't cost much money, if any, but we would have to have an auditorium, and the administrative will, to pull it off.  Or, the auditorium can be used as one of the three new charter schools in our building does every morning in my school. They use it for pep rallies. And because we (my school) have surrendered the auditorium (on our floor) to a charter school - they are the ones who can take advantage of this opportunity to create school/class awareness. Class awareness. Yeah, some of our kids look into the auditorium during these assemblies.  I wonder what they are thinking?


  1. Heart breaking! Please continue to post as I have followed you for some time now, and I am sure many others have. Each post is yet another look at the truth of what public education has become in a city that once claimed the best public school system in America.

    In solidarity,

    A teacher in a large public high school in Queens

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