Students face many obstacles just trying to do well in school

TimesLedger Newspapers

New York City is starting a new round of witch trials in our schools, just like the ones conducted last year. The witches are the schools accused of being failures. City education officials just announced that they want to close 19 failing schools while state education officials claim 104 Queens schools were in need of improvement under the federal No Child Left Behind Act.

We believe schools should be improved but having unreasonable requirements — such as all schools must improve by 3 percent every year — will not help the best schools but penalize them. The charter school and school improvement mania make up a new, multimillion-dollar industry using public money for a few schools at the expense of many.

Old venerable schools like Jamaica High School were ordered closed, but a new school in the Jamaica HS campus with a new principal and supervisors was created. The change around money in the new schools could have been better used to help the special needs and English as a Second Language students, as well as other students in the old Jamaica HS building.

The reality of our society is that we send our children to school. In the old days, many left at the age of 15 for farm or factory work. Today, the powers that be want all children to finish high school and go to college. This never happened in the past and cannot happen today. Not every child has the interest, capability, background or ability to do advanced academic work.

Some reasons why many students cannot finish academic training in high school are due to social problems, dysfunctional families, psychological problems, mental problems and economic needs. Thankfully, some schools, social welfare organizations and anti-poverty programs are helping students work and go to school, but if there is an economic downturn, the programs disappear.

Teen and adult gangs are a fast-growing segment of the population. Families where women have different children with different fathers are often unstable. Stepfathers who abuse their stepchildren make them unfit for learning in school. That some children succeed is a tribute to the human spirit to learn.

Slum housing, rats, roaches, fleas, bedbugs and ringworms all make life terrible for many children. Some children just have babies and do not know how to be parents. The law requires that teachers and school administrators report all suspected cases of child abuse. A teacher can be arrested if she does not report these suspicions.

A principal my wife’s parents knew was cut on the head when a parent smashed him with a paperweight he had on his desk. Guess who had to comfort my wife when she recounted these stories at home at night? And teachers are blamed for problems in schools.

Many children would rather go to a party and drink, watch TV, listen to music or text rather than study or listen to a teacher. Naturally, they fail and drop out of school. Most TV shows just entertain or provide thrills and do not educate to any extent.

Then there are the emotionally disturbed or vicious children who fight, attack and disrupt classes. To save money, the city Department of Education keeps them in regular classrooms as long as possible with little or no help. And some wonder why 50 percent of the new teachers quit teaching in the first five years.

The schemers who create charter schools discourage children from entering so their results are good. The better the school looks, the more schools they can open and the more money they can make from their school business.

And it is big business all with that public money.

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