Monday, March 06, 2006

Finding Space for City Kids

Leonie Haimson, Executive Director of Class Size Matters, suggests that “alternative” high schools are not doing their job—that in fact many boast graduation rates of 5% or less, including Brownsville Academy HS, Career Education Center, Community Prep, HS Redirection, Island Academy; NYC Vocational Training Center, Offsite Educational Services, and Second Opportunity School.

Bernard Gassaway, former Senior Superintendent of Alternative Schools and Programs, suggests that Ms. Haimson is right on target. As usual, Mayor Bloomberg and Chancellor Klein are more concerned with appearances than facts, outsourcing public school programs into “church basements, housing projects, homeless shelters, storefronts, suspension centers, juvenile detention centers, and prisons.” Mr. Gassaway adds, “I ventured into places that few department of education officials would dare go. Most pretend these makeshift programs do not exist. Worse, they pretend that these children do not exist – out of sight, out of mind.”

Mr. Gassaway’s closing paragraphs leave no doubt of his familiarity with the Bloomberg-Klein approach education:

As City Hall, DOE central, and consultants go through another clandestine reform of the original “Children First” reform, I know they will not deliver on this latest promise to serve disconnected children. Their arrogance and disconnection preclude them from doing so. Their arrogance precludes them from working with people who may disagree with them. Their disconnection precludes them from listening to people who live and work closely with children. Their arrogance precludes them from respecting people who are poor and miseducated. In the final analysis, a system and its protectors are incapable of putting “Children First.”
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