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The Ugly Underside of School Closings: A Telling Incident
Reader Comment: You're absolutely right. As a former NYC principal, I often had an internal battle... Should I accept students because of who the are and their potential or accept students who would improve my progress report grade? I tried to find students who could fulfill both but nevertheless, it made me feel horrible at the end of the day. I understand the need for accountability but there needs to be a better way...we need to be accountable for accepting and supporting ALL students.
Ohanian Comment: So when are we going to start the revolution?
by Dr Mark Naison, Fordham University
If you think closing schools for low test scores doesn't hurt children, listen carefully. This morning, at 8:30 AM I got a panicked call from a dear friend and colleague whose daughter, a special needs child, was auditioning for an arts junior high school in the Bronx. The teacher in charge of auditions told her ( something that the principal later confirmed) that the school didn't take special needs children, no matter how talented, and used reading scores as their primary criteria for admission. They let my friends daughter audition, so as not to hurt her feelings, but made it clear that she had
no chance of getting into the school.
This kind of educational triage, which we already know is widespread at charter schools, is now spreading to schools throughout the system,as the NYC DOE
makes it clear that low test schools will lead to school closings and firings of teachers and principals. If you are a principal, it is simply not in your interest
to take children, who because of developmental issues ( or in some cases poverty and stress) do not score well on standardized tests
So what happens to children like my friend's daughter who is bright, beautiful and talented, but doesn't test well? Is she systematically excluded
from the schools with the most resources, and the best programs and services and shunted to schools that the DOE has marked for closing?
School reformers who enthusiastically endorse school closings, like Arne Duncan and Michelle Rhee, say they are doing so because they represent "the children."
But which children are they talking about? Certainly not my friend's wonderful daughter, and the millions of children like her, who mark my words, are
going to be casualties of this misguided movement
Dr. Mark Naison Mark Naison is a Professor of African-American Studies and History at Fordham University and Director of Fordham's Urban Studies Program. He is the author of three books and over 100 articles on African-American History, urban history, and the history of sports.
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