Sunday, January 28, 2007

Social Promotions

In the beginning of the school year, Bloomberg announced an end to night school. Many people were up in arms. How were these students who did nothing for three years suddenly going to earn the credits they needed to graduate on time? Although I have never taught night school, I know that after going to school a full day, kids that are not the best students to begin with absorb nothing more in an additional class. I know that after teaching all day, I sometimes feel that I am shortchanging my evening class because I don't have the energy to do any more. I'm an adult feeling this way, so how are kids going to do any better? When my day students came in after a night school class, they were often sleepy and never had homework, citing night classes as the excuse.

Yes, no more night school. Critics hailed this as a big money savings technique and a way to end social promotions. What a farce! What a lot of horse manure the citizens of NYC were being fed! No more night school, now there would be late day school. The money saved on the night school program was now going to be funneled into the schools for this program. Generic courses would be offered in the main subject areas so kids from different levels could get the extra math or English credit they needed. A teacher who teaches the math part told me her kids are undisciplined, lazy, and often disruptive. She has three different levels in one section. The administration wants them all to pass. After all, if graduation rates do not increase, Principal Suit and his buddies might not get their performance bonuses again.

No matter what laws the government passes, no matter how many times they proclaim "NO CHILD LEFT BEHIND", social promotions will never be ended as long as programs like this exist. (I don know that there are kids that do benefit from these programs but these kids are few and far between. In a school like mine, with a 12 period day, these stududents could just have a regular class added into their schedule if they are serious about making up credits.)


NYC Educator said...

Mayor Bloomberg also feels kids need to get credit for "seat time," so even if they learn nothing in those PM classes, they get credit for sitting on their asses.

After all, any good administrator has honed that skill to an art. They're tickled to see kids following in their footsteps. Or seat prints. Or whatever.

Mrs. T said...

Our district has enacted a new "Rigor and Relevance" policy- we not to socially promote students and are to hold them accountable , blah blah blah. So, they got rid of summer school. Same thing- they want to increase graduation rates and leave No Child Behind, but they cancel summer school? What about a kid who needs just one more PE class because he broke his ankle and couldn't take gym his last semester? He can't graduate? Crazy.

ms. whatsit said...

My district also has a "Rigor & Relevance" policy
designed to end social promotion. What has happened to us is an endless parade of staff developement meetings (AP vertical teaming, curriculum mapping, cohorts, blah, blah, blah....) that regularly take teachers out of the classroom in order to "better equip them, enhance alignment," and to help ensure that all students graduate from "college ready". The amount of lost teaching time to achieve this goal is frustrating, and many teachers I know believe that this time lost makes them feel more impotent than empowered.

I have a theory that many administrators (perhaps like your Mr. Bloomberg) become administrators because they do not effectively connect with the reality of what goes on in classrooms. They enact changes in order to make better names for themselves. Unfortunately, these changes often miss the heart of what's broken in the education system, which is what I hear you saying: that the biggest stakeholders in education, the kids, are not held any more accountable for their own learning than they ever were before administrative changes.