The surge of unaccompanied minors crossing our southern border has become an urgent issue for New York because a disproportionate share of them have come here as they seek better lives.
In fact, Suffolk and Nassau Counties are third and fifth among all U.S. counties in the number of these children they have absorbed; together, they have received more than 2,600 this year.
Our schools are educating young people in desperate need. That’s a fact of which we should be proud.
But local school districts that are meeting their constitutional and moral obligation are bearing the burden wholly on their own without additional federal or state aid.
That’s forced unacceptable tradeoffs and serious tensions with existing student populations. The schools that have taken on these students are not swimming in money; they are being forced to make difficult choices about the basic services they provide.
Tisch goes on to write that the state must pony up the extra aid and the feds must extend the ELL exemption for these children:
Beyond stretching local resources, this influx of new students presents a challenge to these districts in meeting federal accountability standards under the No Child Left Behind law. Many of these students fled traumatic circumstances in which they had little formal schooling, and in many cases their English proficiency is extremely limited.
To address this kind of challenge and not penalize districts, the State Education Department has asked the U.S. Department of Education for an exemption for these students from the English Language Arts assessment for two years — beyond the traditional one-year exemption for English language learners.
This is only fair to these students and the districts, which should not be labeled as failing as a result of addressing the needs of a new population.
So we need to be fair to the students and the districts when it comes to how these children are assessed within the confines of NCLB.
What about the teachers?
I notice you never once mention teachers here.
I applaud you for standing up for these children and stating explicitly that we should be proud our schools are educating these young people in desperate need.
I also applaud you for calling on the state to add extra money for the education of these children rather than forcing districts to cut existing programs or services to meet the new obligations.
I applaud you too for calling on the feds to double the ELL exemption.
But I can't help but notice in this entire piece, you never talk about the teachers who will be teaching these students and who will have their teacher evaluation ratings based in part upon the performance of these students.
There are state measures of performance and local measures of performance and both of those can ding an effective teacher and give them a rating of ineffective overall - as we know from the highly respected Long Island teacher who is suing after the state gave her a 1 out of 20 on the test component even though her students scored better than most students around the state on their tests.
So what about the teachers who teach students who are newly arrived in what you call this "surge of unaccompanied minors across our southern borders...who have fled traumatic circumstances in which they had little formal schooling."
Is there a dispensation in APPR for the teachers of these students as well?
Or are just the students and the districts deserving of fairness?