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“Multiple Pathways” to Nowhere.

For years the union has been decrying high schools with high class size, a lack of guidance services: schools were kids are treated as anonymous OSIS numbers. We go through the September/February ritual of filing class size grievances and the DOE fights the grievance and shuffles kids around for weeks, sometimes months. The “average” high school teacher has a teaching load of at least 150 students a week. Maybe, just maybe, you can carefully mark a set or two of papers each night and “create” that wonderful and marvelous performance that works for your kids and satisfies the bosses. No wonder that kids drop by the wayside. With all the issues associated with poverty and the streets coupled with an unfeeling, aloof school bureaucracy too many kids simply give-up.

The DOE, in its wisdom, has decided that attendance and dropout rates are unacceptable. They have created a “Multiple Pathways” program, alternatives to the traditional path through school. We used to have a rich, varied set of alternative high schools, and some still exist. The Tweed “brain trust” decided that alternative schools and programs did not have “good data,” gee!! What a surprise!! Alternative transfer high schools, literacy centers, GED programs have been eliminated or slashed.

Average daily attendance in large high schools is appalling, in many schools a third of the kids are absent every day, cutting classes is commonplace and schools exert enormous energy on security issues. The core of the “Multiple Pathways” effort is an expansion of the YABC program (Young Adult Borough Centers) – students who are seventeen with more than seventeen credits attend school in a night school-like configuration with counseling and a jobs program. The program has been around for a long time and expanding it is an excellent idea. Why wait until the kid is halfway “out the door”? Patterns of below standard achievement, poor behavior in school and poor attendance begin in elementary schools and accelerate throughout middle school. It is no surprise that failure rates in the initial high school year, the 9th grade, are astronomic.

It is not the classroom teachers who are dysfunctional; it is the leadership of a school system that continues to try “quick fixes.” As long as the scions at Tweed see the UFT as the” enemy” and teachers as idea-less automatons they will continue to create pathways to oblivion: and it is the kids who are the victims.

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17 Comments:

  • 1 NYC Educator
    · Nov 9, 2005 at 4:22 pm

    “The “average” high school teacher has a teaching load of at least 150 students a week.”

    Your purported concern for our teaching load is preposterous.

    Actually Unity, in its wisdom, saw fit to raise rather than reduce the number of students in recent contract negotiations.

    So make that 160 students each, beginning February.

    Thanks, Peter!

    Thanks, Unity!

    Thanks, Unity.

  • 2 institutional memory
    · Nov 9, 2005 at 4:46 pm

    WHAT WOULD J.C. DO?

    The solution to New York’s high school woes might be right under our noses.

    Jean-Claude (J.C.) Brizard, the DoE’s Executive Director of High Schools, was formerly the principal at Westinghouse H.S., in Brooklyn. With the support of a dedicated staff who believed in him, he turned it from a hellhole into a pretty damn good school.

    J.C.’s smart, compassionate, and clever, and knows all about the realities of running a high school. If I were Joel Klein, I’d simply hand him the reins and say, “J.C., you’re our man. What will it take to fix the high schools?”

    Unfortunately, that doesn’t seem to be happening … which is too bad, because nobody at Tweed knows half of what J.C. does about high schools.

    I hope someone in authority reads this and has an epiphany: “Let’s ask J.C. what to do,” and then follows his advice.

    Right now, they’re wasting a topflight talent. It’s only a matter of time before he takes a superintendency elsewhere, which will be our loss.

    One of many articles about J.C.’s success at Westinghouse can be found at:

    http://www.cio.com.au/index.php?id=12306553

  • 3 institutional memory
    · Nov 9, 2005 at 4:49 pm

    Sorry, the correct link to the J.C. Brizard piece is:

    http://www.cio.com.au/index.php?id=1230655330

  • 4 madmatt151
    · Nov 9, 2005 at 5:30 pm

    I agree, this breast beating NOW after the contract has sold us up the river makes me laugh. Just today we are discussinghow the school aides who were hired to help keep order in th halls and cafeteria will most likely all be laid off once the adminstration can assign the teachers to replace them. And we have a good administration, but why not save some money? This post makes me laugh. Where was class size in THIS contract. Maybe if we got ONE concession for us then we might not be so upset over this contract. Just for the record, the average HS teacher has over 150 students, because they do fill up to 34 students in each room. 34×5=170!

  • 5 NYC Educator
    · Nov 9, 2005 at 7:25 pm

    And in February, +10=180.

    You’re right.

  • 6 Chaz
    · Nov 9, 2005 at 8:21 pm

    Peter,

    You are correct and let me tell you what my AP of Science told me today. The principal of my school told his cabinet that the 37.5 minutes will be used for make-up labs for science students who cut class or failed to come to school on lab day. He asked my AP to have his science teachers make new labs and grade them. When my AP mentioned that it sounds like a class the principal informed him that the Regional Office have informed him that this is acceptable under the new contract.

    Peter, can you tell me how the UFT is going to respond to DOE’s use of the tutoring time as class time with teacher grading and paperwork required?

    If it looks like a class, smells like a class, then it is a class and will the UFT do their job or lie down and play dead?!

  • 7 firefly
    · Nov 9, 2005 at 9:25 pm

    Peter,

    Well said. Thank you.

  • 8 amelia
    · Nov 10, 2005 at 3:43 pm

    Just because the region and the principal says its so doesn’t make it so. What about grieving any assignment during the 37.5 minutes that does not meet the criteria set in the Contract. There is an expedited process. Will you let the principal do whatever he wants because of your anger about this Contract? I believe that the way we fight on the school level will influence/determine the direction of the implementation of these provisions.

  • 9 Kombiz
    · Nov 10, 2005 at 3:55 pm

    Chaz,

    Have you talked to your chapter leader about filing a grivance? If you’d like to pursue it you can email me at blog@uft.org with your information.

    Kombiz

  • 10 northbrooklyn
    · Nov 10, 2005 at 7:52 pm

    Great article, Peter. Interesting piece on Westinghouse Hi.
    NY Educator/madmatt, for the record-I teach 400 students a week-average for elementary cluster. Class size prek [3 to 5 years old] to 2nd grade: 18; 3rd to 5th: 30; special ed: 12 w/ no para.
    Two weeks ago I taught 200 kids how to write a letter to experts in an area we will be studying later in the year and 80 children wrote their out of state penpal. The past week all 400 are learning how to design a box-I have 400 boxes to date with another 400 on the way; as well as, their drawings of and writing on their design piece.
    In the past, I have had 300 children complete essays-with research notes etc attached, reviewed 200-300 surveys completed by the students and on and on.
    I have also implemented five major special programs with a lot of parts involved across the grades [in two years].
    I am not unique for elementary school-I’m slightly above the norm.
    I can’t comment on your circumstance, but, placing it in the context of what I do, it seems like you have a fairly good deal. If I am wrong or missing something I would appreciate it if you explain your work load in greater detail.

  • 11 Chaz
    · Nov 10, 2005 at 8:22 pm

    Kombiz:

    Thank you for your advice.

    We need to unify to protect the teachers from Tweed. The real enemy!

  • 12 NYC Educator
    · Nov 11, 2005 at 6:59 pm

    Northbrooklyn,

    It was not I but Mr. Goodman who brought up the teaching load of high school teachers. I found it ironic that he would have the audacity to bring that up after his party actually managed to increase it.

    As for me, besides the two ESL classes I teach, I teach 3 writing classes and I read and correct everything they write daily. They are from other countries, some have been here less than a year, and all must pass the NYS English Regents in order to graduate. Some have not and will not receive actual instruction in English because they are mandated to take these classes.

    While you may see that as a walk in the park, I do not. And frankly, after a day of doing so, I am less than inclined to teach yet another class, particularly since I have college classes to teach at night. I also work another job weekends, increasingly, because of my peculiar reluctance to situate my family in a tree.

    In any case, congratulations on your remarkable achievements. If you feel that working additional time for a pay raise that fails to keep up with inflation is a suitable reward, I commend you for your ingenuity. Doubtless Chancellor Klein himself would be eager to reward such dedication with a hearty handclasp.

    I suggest you keep voting for Unity. They’re sure to provide you with more of the same.

  • 13 northbrooklyn
    · Nov 12, 2005 at 9:03 am

    NYEducator-
    Thanks for the clarification of your duties-which is what I asked for-not your silly insults…
    I honestly don’t have any information that would help you out of your financial bind-not that you would take my advice. some how I don’t think you would.
    I know all of us work very hard-I think it’s important to keep that in mind. Since I don’t teach h.s., I think it’s perfectly acceptable to ask for more information.
    But, getting back to the original post by Peter, I know former students of mine who were able to get into some great programs that led to electrican licenses, IT jobs, etc and that now seems to be gone. Why should someone have to struggle with a college prep course of study, only to then start another course of study on what they really want to do once they get their h.s.diploma. It doesn’t make sense. And based on what my cousins tell me-in another state-their h.s./college kids put up with the nightmare [college prep/humanities course work] well into college until they just break down and say “Ma, Dad, I can’t do this anymore. I really want to be a plumber.” Very often they have had this on their minds for a long time. But we have all bought into the idea that the smart money is on a college diploma which is just crap. Another thing, in most states if you want to take a tech course and you are in the college prep track you are denied the opportunity…a h.s. student who want to do that has to get a special pass to take a community college course on the wkends. for something like that. That doesn’t make any sense either.
    Lastly, tell me about the college class you teach-I would love to enroll.

  • 14 Chaz
    · Nov 12, 2005 at 9:07 am

    NYC Educator,

    I thought Klein gives hugs and kisses?

    Seriously, it is very obvious that Tweed and the UFT are on different wavelengths on the 37.5 minute tutoring sesson. Based upon my school’s experience it is very important that the UFT inform Tweed what is not acceptable for the 37.5 minutes. Otrherwise, they will impose it on the teachers and wait for it to be grieved.

    The UFT must be pro-active on this issue!

  • 15 jd2718
    · Nov 12, 2005 at 1:15 pm

    North Brooklyn wrote “Why should someone have to struggle with a college prep course of study, only to then start another course of study on what they really want to do once they get their h.s.diploma. It doesn’t make sense.”

    It really doesn’t. The amount of vocational education we have in NYC is clearly too low. And the state requirement that everyone needs to pass 5 regents to receive a diploma is part of the problem.

    The State should offer exams that set minimum proficiency in several subject areas, as a minimum for a diploma.

    The State should offer exams that establish a higher set of minimums for an academic diploma (or whatever they want to call it).

    And the State should offer some additional exams for some sort of “advanced academic” designation in several subject areas.

    If the RCTs had problems, they should have been fixed, not dumped. Not every kid needs the same diploma.

    But instead they set “one size fits all” and it’s usually not until a kid fails in a regular program that he/she gets a shot at an alternate.

    Jonathan

  • 16 NYC Educator
    · Nov 12, 2005 at 2:21 pm

    Northbrooklyn,

    I teach an intensive course in English immersion, and we cover writing, reading, listening, speaking and English grammar. We generally teach high school graduates from countries other than the United States.

    It’s a very good program, but probably not what you’re looking for.

    My point was not primarily about money, but time. Once again, that was Mr. Goodman’s point as well. Thanks to him, and his party, we will have less of it.

    And when they take zeroes in the future, as they’ve been so eager to do in the past, we’ll be working extra time for nothing. Their lack of foresight is mind-boggling.

    Money comes and goes, but lunch duty is forever.

  • 17 Edwize » Multiple Pathways Two
    · Nov 18, 2005 at 4:52 pm

    […] Peter Goodman’s “Multiple Pathways” post last week scooped the DOE on its plans to expand the Young Adult Borough Centers. The Mayor announced the initiative yesterday, as the NY Times reports. While the Mayor was announcing, DOE senior counselor for policy Michelle Cahill presented the whole model more informally at an event hosted by Educational Priorities Panel. The YABCs are to expand and get job readiness and career exploration components, the idea being you have to connect these students to the world of work if they are going to see a reason to graduate. Thanks to another few million $$ from Gates and others, the DOE is also adding 15 new transfer high schools, and again, there is a work-readiness component to engage students in their futures. Or as the DOE says, “students have the opportunity to participate in intensive employability skills development and college exploration activities.” […]