Sunday, November 1, 2009

ICEr CLs in Queens schools
quoted in the Post

Sunday, November 1, 2009
No school left behind

by Angela Montefinise

from the article:

The A-rated school was forced to add a 13th period to its schedule this year, and has 73 classes with more than the 34-student maximum set by the teachers’ contract, UFT rep and teacher Arthur Goldstein said.

“We’re busting at the seams,” he said. “We can’t sustain this. Eventually, the kids will suffer.”

The Department of Education is trying to help the school — it is not sending any No Child Left Behind transfers there for the next year and is aggressively verifying the addresses of students in the zoned program. It has also pledged to build new schools, adding 10,000 seats to Queens to curb overcrowding at many borough high schools.

But Goldstein and others believe there’s another solution that no one is talking about.
“I absolutely believe that they can make the other schools in the area better,” said Goldstein. “It’s their job to make the other schools better. Better options would spread students out, and everyone would be better off.”

A perfect example is Jamaica High School, a large school located less than three miles south of Francis Lewis. It received a C on its progress report, has attendance rates in the low 70 percentile and a grad rate of only 47%, stats show.

Francis Lewis received almost 13,000 applications — the most in the city — from students eager to go there. Jamaica received 1,580 applications, eight times fewer.

Meanwhile, with 1,416 kids, Jamaica is 700 students under capacity.

“I understand the DOE wants to give parents and students what they want,” said Goldstein. “But they should be focused on getting kids interested in Jamaica so they want to go there. That should be the goal.”

. . .

Jamaica social studies teacher and UFT rep James Eterno said his school “has the dedicated staff and programs” to be successful, but needs a helping hand to become more attractive to students.
“We have the space right now to lower class sizes,” he said. “If we could offer really low class sizes, personal attention, parents would send their kids here. That’s something Francis Lewis can’t offer.”

DOE spokesman Will Havemann said class size is not just tied to space, but also to the number of teachers at the school.

“Principals are free to hire new teachers to reduce their class sizes, but given the city’s financial circumstances, significantly reducing class sized may be prohibitively expensive,” he said.
Eterno called this “a frustrating cycle,” saying the school’s budget was cut because the number of students has declined.

“So we have less to work with to begin with,” he said.

Experts also suggested caps at schools like Francis Lewis High School, but Havemann said it is against DOE policy because, “We want to honor to the greatest extent possible students’ preferences.”

That, Goldstein said, cannot continue. “They keep saying yes, yes, yes to kids who want to come here, and no, no, no to things that could help Jamaica,” said Goldstein. “At some point, that has to change.”

James Eterno is running for UFT President and Arthur Goldstein will be running for a UFT Executive Board position on the ICE/TJC slate in the upcoming UFT elections.

Support the election effort by joining the ICE fundraiser Monday night. Make it a virtual party if you can't make it by sending a check made out to Independent Community of Educators (not ICE) and sending it to:
Box 1143
Jamaica, NY 11421

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