Saturday, September 08, 2007

Off To A Great Start

The first week of school has come and gone and although Klein and Bloomberg claim that everything is going great, things are not good. As usual, kids are sitting in the wrong classes. A kid who never passed math A has been sitting in my math B class all week. When she told me, I sent her to guidance. Of course the secretary would not let her in the door. She just took the form and told the girl that her guidance counselor would look into the problem. I'm sure it will be at least a week until the class is straightened out. Another one of my kids was placed in the new integrated algebra class. He should have been in math B. He couldn't get anywhere near guidance. Luckily, we ran into each other in the hall so I was able to walk him into his counselor and I got her to make the change immediately. I did ask her to put him in my class because he is a kind of space cadet who needs a little extra care. Of course she didn't. She claimed she couldn't move his science lab. It took me about 30 seconds to get someone in the program office to make the change the best way for the kid. A hard working, bright girl was not given pre-calculus because the math chairman decided her grades were not high enough (she has a 94 average and every math grade, except for MB 31 was in the mid to high nineties. MB 31 was her only 85. This girl is in the science research program and plans to study some science in college. She needs the math.

Klein--sit in your office and make your claims about the caliber of NYC public school education. Don't provide more counselors to improve programming. Don't provide more advanced math classes so all that want to take the classes are able to. Don't worry about the BC calculus class with 41 kids in a trailer built to hold 30. Don't worry about the air conditioners that don't work , the ceilings that leak, the kids sitting on the floor because there are not enough chairs, or the bathrooms still under construction. NYC schools had a great start. Keep up the good work Klein.


Mighty Mojo said...

Amen, Sistah!!! You speak it.

Anonymous said...

honestly, this BS with the NYC public school system has been going on for far too long. I dont understand why it takes so much time to get kids in the right place from the very beginning. Its like the counselors just get lazy and Suit is worried about nothing but his public reputation. Unfortunately, these are powers high above us and all we can do for now is just bitch and complain.
I was lucky to have a teacher like you so its not like im complaining for myself, but it would be nice if a schedule change didnt take long enough to miss a whole two weeks of classes.

-Pink Floyd

Anonymous said...

You forgot to add:

Not enough texts for every student.
13 students in extended day.

Anonymous said...

Laziness could explain a lot. And maybe not. Do you have a counselor you can speak with (not during program-change time!) or are you on good terms with the programmer?

Over the counters (students added late) can cause scheduling havoc. Teachers retiring last minute. Space surprisingly becoming unavailable, or an admin promising to designate a room. Then there are grade changes based on regents grades, reprogramming based on graduation needs, reprogramming based on summer school success (or failure).

Freshmen records from middle school can be bad. If you are zoned (we used to have zoned schools in the Bronx...) you may have a small number of feeders, in which case that's no excuse. But the odd kid coming from a different school, or out of state! needs different handling.

As classes are added or deleted, kids' schedules changes, necessarily affecting other classes as well.

And teachers have been known to change grades, meaning - reprogram.

This sounds like a list of excuses. It is not meant to be. Schools can control some, but not all, of these factors. Find out what the major factors are in your school, if you are curious.

The tougher question: what is the school doing to improve them?

Anonymous said...

i am curious, you mention outdated facilities (i.e. trailer) and not enough staff to handle programming concerns. I teach in the city and live on LI. I always find it funny when i talk to my colleagues who live in the city. They usually pay half or less than half in property taxes than I do. When I ask them if they are willing to pay more for a more quality education for their kids/other kids, most of them give me a blank look. And there was a big uproar when Bloomberg raised property taxes early on in his mayorlty. I address this to you specifically because i have read your blog for a while now and I know you are from Queens right? Also I agree with much of what you say and respect your point of view. However, until city residents are paying the same in property taxes that I pay (or at least close to it) then the compliants about facility/budget will fall on deaf ears from this corner.

That does not excuse laziness/incompetence of admins and counselours, of which there is much in my school, as I am sure in yours.

Pissedoffteacher said...

I personally would be willing to pay more taxes, if the taxes were used for the right things. My house is worth much more than it is taxed for. I would also be willing to pay for universal health care, but that is another story. Aside from this, New Yorkers pay a hefty city income tax, which, I am sure might be the equivalent of some of the property taxes out of city residents pay.

I don't think the funds that are available are used correctly. We are closing alternative schools, like Ida B. Wells School, and are not opening up anything in their places. Teachers with 7 years or more of experience are roaming the halls as ATR's while more and more new, young ones are hired.

When we talk about NCLB and equality in education, NYC children should not be shortchanged just because they live in the projects.

Anonymous said...

And in the same vein, most of what CFE was about was the amount of money NYC contributes to the state, vs the amount of aid coming back. We are being shortchanged.

And property tax? It's not the homeowners who are hurting the city (quite the contrary) - I think we need to look at big business, especially in Manhattan.

Do NYU or Columbia pay tax? Huge landlords, making a fortune from prime location....

Anonymous said...

granted i agree with both of the comments you two just stated. However, the city income tax is NOT equivalent to island property taxes. I am glad you said you would be willing to pay higher taxes though. Shows a willingness to admit there is a difference. Your point about money being misspent is well taken, but money is misspent in every school district, believe me. Beauracracy is endemic to education, unfortunately. Jonathan, your point about CFE, although correct, really has nothing to do with my point about property tax disparity. Your point about big business/large educational institutions is well taken, but that does not change the fact that city residents pay less for their PROPERTY taxes than Island residents, per thousand. The money sent to the state is largely through the sales tax, which definately does not come strictly from city residents. For instance, Whenever i pay for something in the city, i am contributing towards that payment.

Pissedoffteacher said...

I am contributing to Nassau when I shop there. the majority of NYC kids live in buildings where their parents are paying rent, so increased property tax would not help alleviate the problem. I know you will hate this, but I think we should bring back the commuter tax.

Anonymous said...

actually i would have no problem with the commuter tax, especially if part of it went towards the pay for teachers. The rent is lower because the property taxes are lower. If the city raised property taxes the landlords (some of them) would raise rent. And not all of my students parents rent, actually i would say its a fifty fifty split when I ask students. No offense, but i doubt you spend as much time shopping in Nassau and buying things as I do buying things in the city. I am here every day, and I buy things almost every day.

Anonymous said...

by the way, completely off topic but although the hanging of the noose was a horrific act, the jena six did still assault some white students no? I agree the charges are completely overdone, but should they be excused? Whoever hung the noose should be prosecuted for a hate crime, but does the hanging of a noose mean violence is acceptable? You can feel free to correct me on facts of case, I am not totally aware of all the facts, was it a fight between the two groups or an assault by one group of the other?

Pissedoffteacher said...

From what I understand, the violence was started by the group of whites. The boys are being tried by an all white jury.

As for taxes in Nassau, you really don't know where I shop, or go to eat, so please do not form any opinions of me.

I also know that people from outside the city can use Central Park, ride the ferry for free and do all sorts of things in the city, while people outside of Nassau are not allowed in pools and parks. There are major discepancies whether you like them or not.

Anonymous said...

you can use parks for free in Nassau also

Pissedoffteacher said...

not without a leisure pass, which you cannot get without being a resident

Catherine Johnson said...

Not enough texts for every student.

ding! ding! ding!

My district, $22,000/per pupil spending, has also had numerous classes without enough textbooks for students.


In fact, parents in just the past year were still finding out from their kids that -- hey -- the Honors English class only read 2 books this semester because they didn't have enough paperback copies to go around.

Then the school denies it.

We need to start a joint Westchester/NYC blog.

Some of the problems are identical; some are mirror-images.

An example of a mirror-image problem: you mentioned schools being treated like a business, with kids left out.

In my own district the tone for the past few years has been tea party. There is no business sense at all; none. When the district wants to buy SmartBoards for every class we're told, "The teachers love them!" When my friend, living on a middle class income and spending thousands a year on tutors who work in the school her son attends, asked why we were required to buy notebooks from the school at twice what we would pay for them at Staples, she was told, "The teachers want uniform notebooks." etc. We are sent district newsletters with reports on how much the teachers enjoyed their writers workshop, etc.

It's the exact opposite of the Bloomberg/Klein narrative, with the same result.

Decisions are never justified on grounds of what a policy or curriculum will do for students.