Friday, December 13, 2013
A School Struggles To Survive With A Changing Student Body - School #10
The school I was in this week was one of the 32 schools that Mayor Bloomberg wanted closed through the "turnaround model" back in 2011. While the Mayor's transparent attempt to remove senior teachers eventually failed, the damage was done for this school in particular.
The school now has a majority Hispanic population with an increasing Middle Eastern component, especially Egyptians and Yemenites. This is quite a change from the Eastern European population the large comprehensive school had only a few years back. The Eastern European student population is barely in double figures and decreasing yearly. More importantly, is the rapid increase in "English Language Learners" and the dumping of large numbers of "over the counter" students to further destabilize the school. Many male students walk the hallways in groups of four or more during class and even as school suspensions are rising, the students don't seem to care. Teacher disrespect among the middle eastern boys, in particular, is a common occurrence and they tend to disrupt classes with little fear of consequences.
The school staff is highly experienced and while staff morale is low, the teachers have been able to keep the school from falling into the abyss that Tweed wanted to see happen. They are friendly, caring, and try to engage the students as much as possible. The teaching staff treated me well and the Chapter Leader gave me a place to keep my belongings in and I received a key to the bathroom. The Administration keeps a "hands off policy" and allows their teachers to teach, within limits.
A big negative is that the school is out of the way from mass transit and its difficult to find parking, This will get worse next year as a 1,000 student elementary/middle school will open across the street and with no parking area. This will mean that nearly 100 school staffers will be bringing cars to the area and drastically increase the already terrible parking problem. Moreover, the school suffers from non-working radiators and the smell of urine in some stairwells is overwelming. There is no teacher cafeteria for teachers to go to eat their lunch.
While I liked the school's teaching staff, the low academic levels of the student body, the travel and parking problems getting to the school, and the general student disrespect by the males in particular for their teachers makes this school one to avoid.