Monday, February 14, 2011

The Ugly Side of School Closings: A Telling Incident by Dr. Mark Naison

Here is an e-mail on education written and I believe sent to me by a Dr. Mark Naison. Even though I do STRONGLY advocate for the idea of gifted programs in our schools, I do see and agree with his point were schools are forced to compete for the most talented children. If you select the best students or "weed out" the students that will probably return a lower investment for effort spent, it’s a sure way to get test results up. Often time education has becomes a shell game where schools and teachers position themselves for the best students, often with students as the pawns. Those that put children first can easily find themselves on the chopping block. It's a sad state of affairs when it's either "my job" or a child’s education.


The Ugly Underside of School Closings: A Telling Incident
Dr Mark Naison
Fordham University

If you think closing schools for low test scores doesn't hurt children, listen carefully. This morning, at 8:30 AM I got a panicked call from a dear friend and colleague whose daughter, a special needs child, was auditioning for an arts junior high school in the Bronx. The teacher in charge of auditions told her (something that the principal later confirmed) that the school didn't take special needs children, no matter how talented, and used reading scores as their primary criteria for admission. They let my friends daughter audition, so as not to hurt her feelings, but made it clear that she had
no chance of getting into the school.

This kind of educational triage, which we already know is widespread at charter schools, is now spreading to schools throughout the system,as the NYC DOE
makes it clear that low test schools will lead to school closings and firings of teachers and principals. If you are a principal, it is simply not in your interest
to take children, who because of developmental issues (or in some cases poverty and stress) do not score well on standardized tests

So what happens to children like my friend's daughter who is bright, beautiful and talented, but doesn't get test well? Is she systematically excluded
from the schools with the most resources, and the best programs and services and shunted to schools that the DOE has marked for closing?

School reformers who enthusiastically endorse school closings, like Arne Duncan and Michelle Rhee, say they are doing so because they represent "the children."
But which children are they talking about? Certainly not my friends wonderful daughter... and the millions of childrens like here, who mark my words, are
going to be casualties of this misguided movement

Mark Naison
February 12, 2011


Anonymous said...

If true, this is unacceptable and illegal--the parents should be calling 311, their city councilman/assemblyman/senator, their local newspaper, the mayor, the chancellor, and so forth.

I'm slightly confused, though, because the two arts-focused public middle schools in the Bronx that require an audition as part of admissions do in fact serve a fairly high percentage of special education students, although one of them (TAPCO) doesn't appear to have any MRE classes.

Anonymous said...

A great post! Thanks, Mr. Naison.