Saturday, February 21, 2015

How can Bronx Public High Schools be Improved?

I've been reading about all the changes to our discipline code ( basically no suspensions), cell phones in the classroom, many ( especially new) school buildings with no metal detectors. I have mixed feelings about it. If I walk into my teenager's public school in Westchester, it's the same as what's being proposed. No metal detectors, cell phones, peer mediation and justice. It works. There is where the (future) similarity ends. This particular city is not wealthy. It is however fully integrated. The kids that come over to my house to study are Filipino, African American, White and Bi -Racial. Most have two parents at home ( with some notable exceptions), but all have parent(s) who want their children to succeed. The parents who aren't killing themselves working to pay their bills get involved in some way with the school. The kids themselves are very motivated and competitive with their grades. (Many parents, but not all, hate common core.)

All of this is in sharp contrast to what I see in the Bronx. I've taught thousands of students over my 24 years. I have never taught a White student. When I tell people outside the Bronx that, they shake their heads, laugh (or perhaps don't believe me). "Not even a stray Albanian?", "No." Many of the students I've taught over the years ( and am very proud of) have admitted the only diverse people they came into contact with, as students,were their teachers. This bubble like environment creates stereotypes and causes many problems for our students and society. (This happens in any school that isn't integrated -At NY Private Schools, Challenging White Privilege From the Inside .)  I don't see any involvement from parents in any Bronx high school I've been to. Why is that? Do principals want parents in their schools - other than for open parent teacher night? (I asked several parents their feelings about common core- none of them knew what it was.) I know Bronx parents love their children. Many Bronx parents are poor, have limited educations, and don't know how to help their kids succeed. I believe everything that DiBlasio and Farina is doing is well intentioned and should be done - but integrate the schools, get parent involvement, help parents with classes or study groups and have great schools again. Our schools need to be diverse and integrated. One last point, if Ruben Diaz Sr. cared about the people of the Bronx he would try to facilitate that, not blame the NYCDOE for sending the Bronx the worst teachers. (I suppose he's looking to curry favor with Cuomo after endorsing Astorino.)

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