Perdido 03

Perdido 03

Monday, January 18, 2010

Schools Klein/Bloomberg Are Closing Had Huge Increase In Homeless Students

Education deformers like Mayor Moneybags, Joel Klein, Arne Duncan, President Obama and their hedge fund manager/education reform buddies like to say that when children do not graduate on time or show increased improvement on their standardized test scores, it is the fault of the schools they attend and the teachers who teach in those schools.

This year, Klein and Moneybags are closing 20 public schools in New York, citing low graduate rates and stagnant test scores as reasons why the schools need to be closed and the teachers need to be fired.

But the Daily News
points out some other reasons why students at those schools might not be doing so well:

All but one of the city schools slated for closure were grappling with more than failing test scores last year - they also saw a massive spike in homeless students.
At 19 of the 20 schools that the Education Department announced last month it plans to shut down, the number of homeless kids jumped by more than 100%.

The increase swamped social workers and left principals scrambling for after-school funding to give kids a place to go after classes ended, teachers and administrators say.

At Public School 332 in Bushwick, Brooklyn, there were 95 homeless children enrolled last year - close to one in five students. That's up from just 23 the year before.

"It's not just about academics," said Vanecia Wilson, a science teacher at PS332. "They come in with a lot of stress."

Her school runs an after-school program that serves dinner and provides tutoring. The constant turnover can make it hard for the children to keep up, Wilson said.

Children start in the middle of the semester and sometimes disappear when they transfer shelters.


The number of homeless students rose citywide last year, as the economic crisis cloaked the city. But the spike at all but one of the closing schools far exceeded the 20% citywide average.

"The [Education Department] has taken aggressive action to help address the profound challenges faced by students in temporary housing," department spokesman Danny Kanner said.

The Panel for Educational Policy will vote Jan. 26 on whether to approve the shutdown of the 20 schools deemed failing by the Education Department.

Jevommey, a ninth-grader at Christopher Columbus High School in the Bronx, began living in a shelter last June.

"It can be hard to do your homework because there's no privacy," said Jevommey, 17, who travels two hours to Columbus from a shelter in Brooklyn. "The classes are nice. I didn't want to change schools."

"It's so difficult for the child," said Christine Rowland, an English teacher at Columbus, where the number of homeless students soared by almost 200%.

"Lots of students think of this school as a home, but for some, it's more of a first home than a second home."

These schools have been dealing with many other socio-economic problems beyond huge increases in homeless students this year.

Many saw huge increases of at-risk students from other schools that have been closed by Klein and Moneybags the last few years. Many are located in neighborhoods with terrible unemployment and high rates of poverty and addiction.

But of course Klein and Bloomberg lay sole blame for the "failure" of these students on the schools and the teachers who teach in them.

Same goes for Obama and Duncan in D.C.

Poverty, homelessness, unemployment, and generations of learned dysfunction have nothing to do with students who do not graduate on time or score high on standardized tests.

It's the schools and the teachers who are to blame.

You can keep closing all the schools you want and fire all the teachers you want, but until the socio-economic problems of poverty, addiction, unemployment, homelessness, and learned dysfunction passed on from generation to generation are addressed, nothing will change.

But that's a lot harder to do than close schools and fire teachers, isn't it?

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