Friday, August 19, 2016

127,000 NYC Students Are Homeless

That's one in eight. It's not at all surprising because minimum wage workers can't afford to live here. If we raise the wage to $15, they still won't be able to afford it.

And still, reformies of all stripes get all agitated about how what we need is to fire the teachers, to establish charters, to give school "choice." Jesus, what about the choice to have a home? Isn't that just a little more fundamental than whether or not $500K-per-annum Eva Moskowitz gets to open up another charter school, or whether or not the city has to pay for it?

Nonetheless, every week there's another story about some study Eva's BFFs, the so-called Families for Excellent Schools, have done that proves that either City Schools Suck, Bill de Blasio Sucks, or ideally both. Where are our values?

I don't personally believe that standardized test scores are an indicator of much beyond family income. I don't think it's a coincidence that NY State took over the schools in Roosevelt but left Great Neck alone. But even if I did believe such a thing, there is no way I would prioritize test scores over living conditions. Self-proclaimed education guru Bill Gates has declared the way to defeat world poverty is for poor people to raise chickens.  Well, that's not an option if you live in Queens or the Bronx. Neighbors can be picky about having chickens running around in apartment buildings.

The fact is all schools targeted for closings contain high percentages of impoverished children. They contain high percentages of students with special needs. As long as we keep funneling children with proactive parents into charters, as long as we allow them to maintain and follow up on "got to go" lists, and as long as we allow them to dump kids back into public schools without replacing them we won't have any real "choice."

Sorry, reformies. If you gave a crap about children you'd stop attacking those of use who've dedicated our lives to serving them. You'd stop dragging them and their parents to Albany to maintain the substandard jobs you offer those who can't get UFT jobs. You'd fight to get kids out of poverty rather than putting your millions behind smoke and mirrors. You'd fight to make sure children had a future with middle class jobs rather than attacking teaching, one of their very best options.

You cannot ignore the fundamentals and make progress. One out of eight of our kids is homeless. That's not even considering the working poor, struggling to get by. Do you seriously think that parents working multiple jobs have time for parenting? Do you seriously think that homeless and overworked parents have the time to examine, apply for, and do the extra work hours charters can demand?

It costs $500 for an Epipen this year.  That's a 400% hike from what it was in 2008. Do homeless kids even know they need one? Have they signed the paperwork to help get one, if such paperwork is even available? I don't know, but I am certain that homelessness is a thing, that poverty is a thing, and that as long as we keep our head in the sand and worry about how many Moskowitz Academies we can open, or how many meaningless tests kids can pass, we're way off the mark in our priorities.
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