Friday, September 24, 2004

25 minutes til class


So here's what happened yesterday in the world of Journalism school:

I was hanging out in front a P.S. 92 on 134th Street between Adam Clayton Powell Blvd. and St. Nicholas Ave. hoping I didn't appear to be a giant hulking white man loitering in front of a school full of children. Apparently I fooled them.

I had my little reporter notebook out walking up to other loitering adults to ask them if they were parents, and when they were, I asked them about No Child Left Behind.

The school in question, P.S. 92, is in "Restructuring," the harshest phase of NCLB. The first two stages are School in Need of Improvement 1 and SINI 2 -- each taking a year to complete. If test scores are still below the AYP (adequate yearly progress -- set by the state), the 3rd year they fall into "Corrective Action," then "Planning for Restructuring," wherein the school maps out what they will do if their AYP again fails to meet expectations, and then finally "Restructuring," where the whole school gets picked up and shaken by a hill giant until all the crusty mops, brooms, and square pizzas are scattered all over the unsuspecting street.

You may well ask how a school could sink to the bottom of a 5-year plan only after 3 complete years of NCLB. It's a fair question, and I'm wondering it myself. My current guess is that it just sucked so bad that every half-year felt like a full year, or something.

Also, since the 2nd phase (SINI 2) of NCLB, students are allowed to transfer out of the school into other better performing schools. Therefore, the class sizes at P.S. 92 are drastically smaller than the city average. First grade classes as small as 15 students, and a fourth grade class of 21, which is "perfect" according to their teacher. One parent said that No Child Left Behind was "the only good thing he ever did," referring to George W. Bush.

So, I was talking to this teacher on the sidewalk in front of the school. She was a short, middle=aged, fat, white woman from Westchester who seemed pleasant and nice like a 4th grade teacher should be. When I thanked her for her time, I mispronouced her name; she corrected me; and I corrected myself and thanked her again. When I turned to leave, a short, chubby 11-year-old black boy asked my, "Are you hollerin' at her?" This took me a bit by surprise. I said, "What?" He earnestly repeated his question. Smiling, I replied, "I'm a journalism student, kid. Get your head out of the gutter."


At 3:33 PM, Blogger stark pimp said...

Jim - you going to Showtime At The Apollo tomorrow night? I bet there's still some Levert funk lingering there.


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