Historically, I would have to disagree with that statement, as NYC has really not been that cold so far. Whatever the excuse, the New York State Regents Examinations are next week and that is just bad timing. A failing grade in a high-stakes exam such as the Integrated Algebra Regents will prevent a student from graduating.
Pop quiz: How do you ensure at-risk students permanently become statistics?
Answer: As a state, require exams whose results determine whether a student will graduate.What also isn't helping the situation is a poster like the one shown below. This gem of a motivational poster can be found on my school's hallway right outside the assistant principal's office.
Okay, obviously this looks grim. Let me make it worse:
- This poster has read: "Our goal is to reach 80%..." every month for the past year and a half. We have never made it. Not even close.
- September has always been our best month since the school opened (two and a half years ago). This is usually followed by a decreasing trend until around March when we can enroll new students. March breaks the downward spiral, but April, May and June usually plummet.
- What is the point of the last "warning" in the poster? The students who aren't coming don't/can't read it. As a student, if my attendance is less than 50%, I probably lack motivation to come to school. So then, why would I care if the school I am enrolled in closes? Just nit-picking now, but why is "school" capitalized?..
- If I want to show these results to students, why is there only one copy posted in a random corner of the hallway? Wouldn't it make sense to mass-print this data and hold an assembly to discuss?
- My school has a dedicated team devoted to attendance. The team makes home visits, phone calls, sends letters home, etc. Even with this man-power, our attendance has always followed this pattern.
And that's where the reformers stop thinking. They refuse to think further ahead. Okay reformers, I'll play your game: if schools are truly hiring incompetent teachers, who is hiring these teachers? The principals! So, by their logic we actually have incompetent principals making very bad decisions at the top. And if that's the case, why aren't we making a bigger deal about incompetent people in charge of a large staff, a large budget, and most importantly, the overall outcomes of our children?
Stepping away from the "reform" movement's logic: what if it's not the teachers' fault? What if it's not the principals' fault? What about the parents? You know, the people who were supposed to instill the value of an education? What if it's the curriculum, as in, what we teach? What if what the state/country dictates is "most important" isn't meaningful to these kids?
Nah, can't be. Let's just put up some posters, use the word "data" somewhere and call it a day.