Friday, January 24, 2014
Well, I found myself in the second of three small high schools in a closed comprehensive high school in Southeast Queens. This school is a 6-12 school and are required to wear uniforms. This doesn't mean that the boys keep their pants up and don't show their underwear, they do! Interesting how the Administration thinks that uniforms will change the behavior and academic outcomes of the students. Maybe in the middle school it might make a difference but not in the high school. This is a themed school but I wouldn't want any of the student body working on me if I was in need of medical care.
The school is top heavy with administration and they just hired their sixth AP, this one looks about 25 and I don't think he has ever shaved. His job is security and doing observations. On the other hand, the school has only one guidance counselor for the 425 students in the high school while having four teachers working as a one period guidance counselor for their circular six period. To me that seems dangerous and is a disservice to both the four teachers and the students they work with. These teachers don't have guidance licenses and could find themselves in trouble if their advice ends up to be harmful to the student. The school should have hired a second guidance counselor and not an Assistant Principal. I guess the Principal doesn't want to do observations and that's more important than giving the students the support they need.
The student body is nearly 100% minority with Black students making up the majority of the population and Hispanics making up most of the rest Teaching them is a nearly 100% young, white, and mostly untenured teachers in their 20's. Not a good fit if you ask me. Interestingly, the students were reasonably well behaved because of the snow and cold and more importantly, many of the problem students didn't bother to show up to school this week since it was the end of the semester and their grades were already decided upon. According to one teacher the school doesn't allow a grade of less than 55% since it allows the Principal to raise the student's grade to passing if the student can achieve a 65% the next semester, giving the student both credits instead of one. Credit recovery by another name if you ask me.
Parking is adequate but traveling there is a horror. I would not want a position in this school
Friday, January 17, 2014
My journey seems to have me traveling in Southern Queens during the first semester of the school year as I landed in my first small school in a Campus that used to be named for a dead President. The school doesn't have a freshman class and many of the teachers are ATRs that have been temporarily placed at the school. What happened to the teaching staff that was there before? It seems many left either by resignation or transfer. In other words, the staff is simply a place holder until the school; closes three years down the road. School morale is bad, real bad. Interestingly, the new school that will replace this school had a tremendous shortfall of applicants for its freshman class and is worried about surviving.
The student body is over 90% Black and the Administration doesn't even bother to tell the boys to pull up their pants, take off their hats, and to stop disrespecting the staff. Cursing and bullying is common at the school and the girls are just as bad as the boys. In one case I saw a girl grab a boy's privates and wouldn't let go until the boy apologized for calling her a "bitch". Few of the students care to get good grades, "just give me my 65" is what the common statement is when asked why they don't do their school work a teacher told me. I really feel sorry for the few students that try, they stand out like little beacon of lights in an environment of darkness. The majority of students don't seem to care and try every conceivable way to leave the classroom.
The only good thing is that there is plenty of parking around the school and is easy to get to. However, unmotivated students, a demoralized and temporary staff, an uncaring administration, and a sense of doom permeates the school and while I was treated well, I certainly wouldn't want a position there under any circumstances.
Friday, January 10, 2014
I was sent to a closing school and it has less than 60 students left. The school is populated by senior teachers waiting for the end in June. I was treated very well and the staff peppered me with questions about how it was to be an ATR. During my time there I setup the Earth Science laboratory practical for the few students since they don't have an Earth Science teacher, what else is new? The lab piratical was for students who needed the Regents to graduate. For the most part, the students were disinterested in academics but since their all seniors, the discipline issue was not a major problem.and they were just trying to graduate by June.
I will not rate the school since its unfair to rate a school in its last year of existence. Furthermore, the staff was told this week that their long-term Chapter Leader was terminated at his 3020-a hearing and that sapped the staff morale even further since he was well liked and protected teachers from administrative abuses and discipline. Hopefully, there will be no more closing schools after this year, or the years that follows.
GRADE "Not Applicable"
Friday, January 3, 2014
I was in another small school that replaced a closed comprehensive high school in Southeast Queens and am quite pleased to have survived the experience. At one time this school was superior to the school it replaced but then the DOE stopped supplying the school with extra funding and exempting them from taking "high needs students". Therefore, of late, the school struggles (and fails) to attract good students and has found it with a student body of only a smidgen over 300 rather than the 425 the school was built for. The composition of the student body is 70% Black and 30% Hispanic.
The freshman and sophomore classes are populated by level "1' and low level "2" students and they run the hallways, rather than go to class, overwhelming the one dean and administration. The Regents passing rates, never good in the first place, has plummeted last year and the teachers expect even worse results this year. The students are disrespectful to their teachers and curse words are common even when talking to the teacher. I don't need to tell you how they treat the ATRs. Every day I was there a fight occurred, sometimes two and the girls are just as bad as the boys. The school is slowly unraveling and the students see it. Many of the students appear to be "marking time" before they transfer, dropout, or end up in the juvenile justice system.
Staff morale is bad, real bad. Many teachers privately told me that they would leave if they could while the newer teachers are seriously thinking of finding a new profession. It appears many of the teachers ended up with an "ineffective" observation that doesn't sit well with the staff considering the student body they are working with. There were three other ATRs at the school with me and every day we all had coverages since at least four teachers are absent on any given day during my stay there.
The only positives I found was that they had an excellent teacher room, with computers, a friendly staff, and onsite parking.
Would I take a job there if offered one. "No way Jose"! "D-"