SOUTH BRONX SCHOOL: Does Uncle Mike and the DOE Know How To Make Shinola From Shit?

Thursday, July 26, 2012

Does Uncle Mike and the DOE Know How To Make Shinola From Shit?

Last week my wife and I went to register our son for his new middle school. He will be starting 6th grade, not only in a new school, but a new school district as well.

As we were waiting in the guidance office to meet with the guidance counselor, I picked up the school's 2012 yearbook and leafed through it. My eyes bugged out of their sockets like when Bugs Bunny fell for the female robot bunny that Elmer Fudd had created. Or was it Daffy Duck?

Aside from the color portraits of the students, who all seemed to be smiling, there was something more.

One of the first things that caught my eye was that this school was not just a place in which rote learning and adherence to some godforsaken testing curriculum was king, but a place in which wanted the students to grow as people. There also seemed to be a lot of fun going on in this school.

There were photos of teachers, administrators, students dressed up for pajama day, crazy hat day, Halloween, you name it it was there. There was a sense of a true community, not of learners (as so many contrived mission statements claim) that is missing in the schools in NYC.

I continued to leaf through and got towards the back. WOW! Again my eyes bugged. There is something called clubs! Yes after, and before, school clubs! How wonderful! Clubs such jazz band, drama club, the  Environmental Club, singing, service, Homework Club, there is a Young Republicans club, as well as a Communist club. But wait, there is more! There is something called the International club, and a literary club magazine club.

All these clubs! All these wonderful things to do. Why? Let's see the statement from the principal;
...we are dedicated to continuous improvement.  This includes not only a comprehensive academic program, but also a focus on the physical, emotional and social environment for students.  Attention is given to ensuring that students deepen their interpersonal and intrapersonal skills.   They are challenged to develop and refine these skills and their abilities so that they are ready for the challenges of high school and higher level education. 

Funny, where is that throwaway bullshit line, "community of learners?"

Why are these clubs important? Because it gives the student a sense of ownership in their school. It gives them a sense of why school is important other than just being some number to take a test so a principal looks good. But, more importantly, students learn by being in such clubs. Music is mathematical. So is art. In fact just as importantly, critical thinking skills are fostered through such clubs. This is what our student are missing and being deprived of day after dull day in the NYC DOE.

When I was in 5th grade I took Mr Fiore's rocketry class. We loved building the rockets, and blasting them off. Why can't this be done in NYC? The rockets can be built in class. A park can be used to launch the rockets. Science, math, social studies, ELA, all come together in one fun filled afternoon.

As I went through the yearbook, I saw that for 7th and 8th graders there were sports teams. Baseball, basketball, volleyball, track, etc... What better way to not only install discipline into the students, but character and a sense of pride? I saw this happen first hand when I was involved with our school's soccer team a few years back.

The clubs and the athletics and can all be done in place of the joke that is extended day. This can all be done cheaper than extended day. Extended day is a joke. Nothing gets done. It's babysitting. Nothing has, or ever has been, accomplished.

The bigger joke, the bigger waste of time is what passes for a schools system and education in NYC. It is a joke and a farce. There are no winners. The students, the parents, the communities, the teachers are all losing. The only ones wining are the friends and sycophants of Uncle Mike who are raking in the bucks and overseeing the destruction.


Anonymous said...

I can't agree with you more that extended day is a big joke. The kids are tired and really not much gets done. But if the schools would provide that extra time/mile of sports, clubs, science workshops, music, art, chess etc., the kids would be alive and added to. By the way we also have a wonderful school in Brooklyn, D 14 (IS318)that refused to give up the extras in these fields for their students. They also took in more special needs students than they "had" to so they could be provided with the services they need And the school has top the chess champions. My youngest daughter went there and it was a far cry from what my older daughters experienced. We have to begin to replicate the models of success that are out there or our public school system is going to be totally doomed.

David Greene said...

We need to publicize more of these stories and seize the platform about education in this country.