Black and white and brown and yellow,
End the rule of sword and gun!
For once you raise your voices
All peoples shall be one
Solidarity Song, Hanns Eisler
Every day some kid will wander into a high school guidance counselor’s office and say: “I know I don’t have many credits – but I really want to graduate – what can you do for me …?” The light bulb finally goes off!
Unfortunately the counselor is confronted with a dysfunctional school system.
There are a number of programs that target “overage, uncredited” students: the Department calls these programs Multiple Pathways.
Transfer Schools , formerly known as Alternative High Schools, are scattered throughout the City with entrance requirements that vary from school to school. The Department, in it’s wisdom decimated the Alternative High School Superintendency and hired an “outsider” who has struggled woefully.
With limited credits a kids will have to spend a couple of years at the transfer school, if he can get in, they all seem to have waiting lists.
Other possibilities are:
Young Adult Borough Centers (YABC) have been around for a long time, they are similar to evening high schools, classes begin at 4 PM, kids attend either two or four days a week. The Centers have Community Based Organizations (CBO) attached, that do counseling and some have job placement programs. For the kid, once again, it’ll take a couple of years to earn a diploma and entry requirements are 17 years of age and at least 17 credits (44 credits in specific areas and five Regents are required for graduation).
GED Programs are an answer for the kid who doesn’t want to spend a couple of more years in school. The Department restructured the programs over the summer, a total disaster. The new program is called GED Plus, however, every site seems to have a waiting list!!
There is no one place to call … a counselor may spend hours calling hither and yon … with no success!!
What is so sad is that the Bloomberg Administration has focused on poverty. In June, 2006 the Mayor’s Poverty Commission Report was released. The Report recommended targeting the working poor, youth between the ages of 16 and 24 and pre-school age youngsters.
A few days ago the Mayor hosted a press conference that recounted 31 programs that emanated form the Poverty Commission Report. Unfortunately there is a total disconnect between the Poverty Commission pilot programs and the Department of Education.
Is the Department of Education part of the City of New York?
If the NYC education governance structure is mayoral control, why is the Department so dysfunctional?
The Department has fallen victim to the Pinocchio Effect … it is constitutionally incapable of telling the truth.
When asked why there wasn’t a simple method, a clearinghouse, a centralized system whereby a counselor can find a placement for a kid, the Department bureaucrat, off the record, responded:
If we make it too easy schools will dump “difficult,” under credited kids …
Isn’t the school system supposed to serve the needs of kids … not the statistics of schools and the system?
A Transfer School administrator on why each school carefully screened potential kids:
We’re also “measured” by our data … we only want “highly motivated” kids …
A new category: “highly motivated” over age, under credited, at risk kids…
After years of failure some kids “see the light,” they realize the importance of earning a high school diploma or a GED: we must be able to “seize the moment,” we must be able to immediately find a placement for that student. For the student this moment may very well decide his/her future: will they stumble through life, or, will that high school diploma or GED enable him to turn around his/her life?
The Department is so driven by “creating” positive data that they condemn a generation of kids to a live of poverty and despair.
Post Script: Season 4 of The Wire should be mandatory viewing for all Tweed personnel – from top to bottom.