September 7, 2012
This week on GothamSchools was filled with stories of fresh starts: new reforms, new jobs and, of course, a brand new school year.
On Tuesday, one of our contributors wrote in the Community Section about his decision to take a job at a new school and leave the one he’d been at for three years. The reason, he wrote, stemmed from a lack of responsibility and compassion at the administrative level. He wasn’t the only teacher with a story to question the leadership at his school. Several teachers took our comment section to echo similar sentiments:
”Bronx teacher-lady” wrote:
I also worked at a school where it seemed that the strongest, most involved teachers received the poorest treatment. After five years of successful teaching and an excellent reputation amongst colleagues and parents, a new assistant principal (under a new Leadership Academy principal) harassed me horribly, on and off, for three years. That, coupled with a particularly difficult class that I received no support with and three years of administrative incompetence which seemed to thwart every effort I made, I became so physically ill I had to leave. Interestingly, I wasn’t the only good teacher that left during that time period.
The city’s push to integrate students with disabilities into general education classrooms was a much-discussed topic when top brass from the education department visited a couple of schools on the eve of opening day. One commenter was less than optimistic about the reforms:
In my school, there are students in inclusion classrooms who read at a second grade level, can barely write, and have serious behavioral issues. Dozens of students were placed into these classrooms regardless of whether or not they are ready. At least in a self-contained setting, these students had were more time to get their work done and learn in a small community without being judged.
But Celia Oyler, a professor of education at Columbia University’s Teachers College, defended the reforms, writing, “there is absolutely no evidence that segregation of the disabled is a successful strategy” whether it is in education, housing, or employment:
In education it turns out that students with disabilities actually learn a lot more when they are given access to the general education curriculum and provided with special education supports. (This is very undisputed after about 30 years of education research.) And the news gets better: when students with disabilities (yes, even those that read many, many years below grade level) are included in general education classes, the achievement outcomes of the non-disabled are not affected. Please do not let old prejudices against people with disabilities harden your heart against their enduring humanity. Students with disabilities are children first and there is ample evidence that self-contained settings produce seriously inferior long-term life outcomes for children.
And a couple of parents used our first-day-of-school live-blog coverage to comment on their own excitement and kudos for the new school year:
Mr. Flerporillo wrote:
Good to be back in the morning routine, and good to see the staff again. Fourth-grade daughter was in high spirits, thrilled to see her friends again and excited for the new year after a summer of swimming, musical theater, and arguments about doing multiplication tables. After a great pre-K year, my gentle son was wary about kindergarten, as am I. Great early-education teachers are truly skilled and gifted.
And Tim stepped back to appreciate the hard work that goes into preparing a school for the first day:
The first day of school is a good day to acknowledge something that gets lost amid the many larger edu-debates, which is that it takes a staggering amount of time, energy, and dedication simply to have schools and classrooms ready for students every day. A toast and best wishes for the year ahead to everyone who has a part in making it happen.