Tuesday, June 28, 2011

You're Not Graduating After All, Sorry about That Scholarship

One does not become an education blogger in New York City without having the stomach for some depressing stories. Today, for example, I was all set to write a happy-go-lucky "Hey, it's the LAST DAY OF SCHOOL!!!!!!!" post and wish you all a happy summer vacation. But that was before I switched on the news in the wee hours of the morning (for the last time until September, I do hope) and heard this story.

You see, the graduating class of Performance Conservatory High School in the Bronx (all 23 of them, which I imagine is a problem in and of itself) was short 9 of its members yesterday. These 9 members were informed that they would not be graduating yesterday morning. How did this happen? Bureaucratic incompetence? Apathy or ignorance on the part of guidance and administration? We don't know yet, and naturally an investigation is pending. But as a teacher, I have to admit that I'm just as confused as the kids involved. One young lady said she had 48 credits and 5 Regents exams, which, to me, sounds like she met the graduation requirements.

This would be bad enough if it had happened in, say, April. If some kind of mix-up had transpired a couple of months ago, when schools are supposed to be combing through graduation requirements, it would have been fixable in plenty of time. Assuming the school is mistaken now, they've ruined these kids' chances at a memorable and enjoyable high school graduation ceremony for nothing, including the class valedictorian who should be spending his summer thinking about his scholarship to Boston College. Instead, apparently, he'll be in summer school.

This story would be a good one to keep in mind when school "failure" is blamed on teachers. No one here is accusing teachers of having taught poorly or lacked caring for their students. Yet these students' futures are sidelined all the same. The principal of Performance Conservatory didn't even attend the graduation. That's a failure of leadership if ever I heard one.

Well, happy summer vacation anyway, y'all. I'll come back on Thursday, I hope, with a more upbeat post in which I embrace the coming weeks of vacation with gusto. I'm not teaching summer school, so there's some time off for me on the horizon, but no matter what your plans, make your last day today a great one for yourself and your kids.
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