I’ve learned one inescapable truth … justice is a bitch.
Homicide: Life on the Streets
A couple of years ago the Department, under the guidance of Michelle Cahill, commissioned a costly study of “over aged,” “under credited” students, students that are well along the path to dropping out of high school.
The results were staggering, huge numbers of kids who had dropped out or were on the verge of dropping out of school. Michelle took the Report on the road, making the presentation around the city, a sobering, and depressing set of data.
The groundbreaking study which is being emulated in Boston, Chicago and Portland, Ore.–was full of surprises. Among them was the sheer size of New York’s problem: 70,000 students from 16 to 21–more than one-fifth of the city’s high school population–were two or more years behind their peers in accumulating the 44 credits needed for graduation. An additional 68,000 had already dropped out. All told, New York’s 138,000 lost and vulnerable kids made up a population larger than the combined public high school enrollment of Philadelphia, Houston and Boston.
The Department’s response has been to create more transfer high schools, a good response, and reorganize the GED programs, basically abolishing Offsite Educational Services and recreating it as GED Plus, in effect creating havoc.
On February 22, a not-for-profit, Directions for Our Youth will be hosting the second Dropout Summit. The New York Sun describes how the not-for-profit and the Department are lobbing hand grenades at each other. The Department response is reflex, anything that emanates outside the walls of Tweed is, by definition, bad. Unless, of course, the “anything” fauns over Tweed initiatives.
The world of dropout prevention is a morass. Programs within the Department of Education, State Programs, not for profits, a range of programs all seeking funding and competing with each other.
What is especially depressing is that we know who is going to dropout many years before the kid is out the school door. A highly persuasive study from John Hopkins identifies the kids and recommends a range of interventions.
The Department, of course, in the “see no evil, hear no evil, speak no evil” mode, and any ideas that don’t bear the imprimatur of Tweed are verboten.
Christine Quinn, the Speaker of the city Council created a Middle Schools Task Force, issued a Report with a range of recommendations, and, the Department adopted some of the recommendations.
These fifty targeted schools contain thousands of kids who are below proficiency, poor attendance, live in high poverty neighborhoods: they fit the pattern of kids well along the dropout route. It is not surprising that six of the newly identified SURR schools are Middle Schools, and the seventh school is a transfer high school.
Under the current Department reorganization School Support Organizations may advise, recommend, suggest, but have no ability to actually demand. Superintendents simply review data. Who speaks for the kids?
I just visited a very, low achieving middle school with 450 kids … 25% Special Ed kids. Last June the outgoing principal excessed one of his two guidance counselors. The remaining counselor is in the triage mode … she can’t possibly provide all the mandated counseling, or deal with the myriad problems of the kids. She deals with the crisis of the moment, she cares, she cares deeply, does the Department?
In spite of the Department’s self congratulatory backslapping they are abandoning a generation of kids … like the Inuit’s of yore, who pushed the elderly and the disabled out to sea on ice floes, the Department has chosen to sacrifice our kids.