Students at One Bronx School Cannot Take Math or English: Just the Tip of the Iceberg!

Dear Commons Community,

An article in the  Neighborhood News mentions the concerns of former teachers, parents and students at the Bronx High School for Medical Science that some of its non-honors juniors will have to forgo any math or English courses at all for a semester or two and make up those credits later.  The article cites the reason:

“…the school claims it simply doesn’t have enough teachers to offer the students those basic classes this semester, but that the students will eventually earn enough credits to graduate, several people said.

“Since the school is always short on teachers and rooms, kids miss out on a competitive education,” said Valerie Harmon, who taught for seven years at Medical Science before leaving this year to teach in South Africa…

…Megan Hester, collaborative coordinator at the Annenberg Institute for School Reform, said the school may have been forced to make a “devil’s bargain” between funding the honors program and providing those basic courses every semester.

She noted that an Annenberg analysis shows that only 1 in 10 high school graduates in the Claremont neighborhood where Medical Science is located meet the state’s college-readiness benchmarks.

“It speaks to how budget constrains can limit a school’s ability to prepare kids for college,” said Hester. “Schools should be concerned about getting students to that level, not just getting them sufficient credits.”

This is sad but only the tip of the iceberg at many small high schools in the poorer areas of New York City.  Budget and the availability of certified teachers in certain subject areas such as mathematics and science is a long-standing problem that has never been adequately resolved.  In addition, many of the new small schools built or remodeled in the past decade lack access to any labs to teach chemistry or biology.   Because of cost and other building code issues, dozens of small high schools do not have laboratories and cannot offer any lab-based courses thereby dooming their students to high school careers devoid of genuine science instruction.  With all of the emphasis in the past several years on the importance of STEM courses for careers and employment, it is a travesty that by design,  the City has betrayed many of its students by placing them in lab-less schools.




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