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Saturday, March 1, 2008

letter from teachers at Bergtraum HS re Chancellor's "jihad" against large schools

Read this article about Murry Bergtraum HS from the Downtown Express. The article explains how many of the school’s problems with overcrowding, safety and low achievement have been been made worse by the small schools initiative, which has caused Bergtraum to be overwhelmed with a huge influx of extremely needy students who were excluded from the new small schools in the area. Yet the staff at Bergtraum has been denied any tools to deal with their academic needs and and social problems of these students, most especially no way to reduce the horrendously large classes. Below is a letter from teachers at the school.

To The Editor:
Murry Bergtraum High School has had an excellent relationship with the surrounding community for many years and continues to do so with the exception of complaints about students “hanging out” in the general area of the Seaport.

Very often these groups of students come from several different schools. However, since Schools Chancellor Klein started his school restructuring program, the city’s large, academic schools, like Bergtraum, have become dumping grounds for students whose needs are not being addressed by the Department of Education.

The large high schools, including Bergtraum, are dangerously overcrowded, not allowed to screen incoming students, and unable to force dangerous students to transfer.

The community board would be well advised to consider whether or not mayoral control of the schools should be reauthorized, and should understand that the chancellor’s jihad against large schools is the problem — not the solution.

If, and when, the Department of Education decides to close down Bergtraum and replace the school with several smaller schools, the community can expect the situation to get worse, as it has in neighborhoods where large schools have been broken up. The real solution is in significantly reducing class sizes, thereby solving the over-crowding issue, and providing the school with the supports necessary to address the needs of these students.

John Elfrank-Dana and David Gordon
The writers are respectively Murry Bergtraum’s United Federation of Teachers chapter leader and School Leadership Team chairperson.

1 comment:

New York Jewish Schools said...

Overcrowding is a serious concern that not only increasing the chances of violence in school from just sheer numbers, but makes it harder to track and screen students for weapons. There should be stricter standards as to the security equipment that must be used per school capacity as well as guards.