Save our Children from the Cheaters, Scammers, and Gun Advocates!

Dear Commons Community,

In today’s edition of the the New York Times, there are several articles documenting the sad conditions in which many of our children receive their educations.

First,  with the unbridled emphasis on assessments, there is yet another report of educators helping students cheat on standardized tests.

“Investigators for a school district on Long Island’s North Shore are looking into allegations that more than a dozen educators from two elementary schools improperly helped students on standardized tests, including by coaching pupils on correct answers last year during state exams, union and district officials said on Thursday.

The investigators, hired by the school district in Glen Cove, Long Island, have spoken to “17 or 18” teachers from the Margaret A. Connolly and Landing Elementary Schools and some of them have been “presented with some draft allegations,” which could lead to disciplinary proceedings, said Karen Ferguson, the president of the union, the Glen Cove Teachers Association.”

Second, investigators are charging a company, Bilingual SEIT, of Flushing , Queens, has been overbilling and taking advantage of the poor oversight by the City and State of New York, in providing services to pre-K children with special needs.  While being paid as much as $17 million a year,

“…many of the children entrusted to Bilingual SEIT did not get the care they needed, according to numerous interviews with workers and parents and an extensive analysis of government records.

Some children whose first language was Chinese languished in classes taught in Spanish or Korean. Others who were supposed to receive individual tutoring were thrown into groups of four or more children, all with different types of disabilities.

Some children did not have disabilities at all and were simply being used to generate billings, the interviews show. “

Third, last week, in the wake of the Newtown, Conn., shootings, a task force of the National Rifle Association recommended placing police officers or other armed guards in every school. The White House has proposed an increase in police officers based in schools.

But as school districts across the country consider placing more police officers in schools, youth advocates and judges are raising alarm about what they have seen in the schools where officers are already stationed: a surge in criminal charges against children for misbehavior that many believe is better handled in the principal’s office.

Since the early 1990s, thousands of districts, often with federal subsidies, have paid local police agencies to provide armed “school resource officers” for high schools, middle schools and sometimes even elementary schools. Hundreds of additional districts, including those in Houston, Los Angeles and Philadelphia, have created police forces of their own, employing thousands of sworn officers.

The effectiveness of using police officers in schools to deter crime or the remote threat of armed intruders is unclear.

Yet the most striking impact of school police officers so far, critics say, has been a surge in arrests or misdemeanor charges for essentially nonviolent behavior — including scuffles, truancy and cursing at teachers — that sends children into the criminal courts.

“There is no evidence that placing officers in the schools improves safety,” said Denise C. Gottfredson, a criminologist at the University of Maryland who is an expert in school violence. “And it increases the number of minor behavior problems that are referred to the police, pushing kids into the criminal system.”  Nationwide, hundreds of thousands of students are arrested or given criminal citations at schools each year. A large share are sent to court for relatively minor offenses, with black and Hispanic students and those with disabilities disproportionately affected, according to recent reports from civil rights groups, including the Advancement Project, in Washington, and the NAACP Legal Defense and Educational Fund, in New York.”

In sum, can somebody please save our children from the cheaters, scammers, and gun advocates that are infesting public education.




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