Thursday, June 2, 2011
The injustice in cancelling the January Regents: a teacher's lament
From a teacher who prefers to remain anonymous:
I'm sitting in my classroom working and five of my African girls are sitting at the table next to me, debating in English, about the injustice presented to them by the NY Regents. They were just informed by a member of our staff that the the January 2012 exams have been cancelled as an effort to improve the state budget.
The conversation started with one of them, a married, teenage mother of two from Guinea, a student who has been studying English for two and a half years, and who was classified by our amazing assessment specialists as a student with interrupted formal education in 9th grade. Since then she's been working toward academic and social English proficiency, an incredible feat considering when she isn't in school, she is caring for her two children as well as her husband.
She came in to my room at lunch, upset, telling me that she feels like she is already working too hard and how will she ever be able to graduate on time next year if she is only able to take her exams in June. She feels the pressure will be too great next year. She said she feels like giving up.
This feeling was echoed by the four other girls, one of whom is also a teen mother who fled her husband and his family to come to the Bronx to be with her aunt. When she isn't in school, she also cares for her child as well as works at McDonald's so she can pay for things like diapers and food.
All of these girls have near perfect attendance. Sometimes in class they fall asleep because they've been up most of the night with their children. They are determined to graduate with their Regents diplomas and they feel incredibly stressed and unsupported by this new plan; a plan that has been largely underpublicized by the DOE, school leadership, and of course also by mainstream media.
When I googled the situation, I read about it on Gothamschools. Nothing about it in the Times...a shame.
I'm writing because I'm furious about the way ELs [English Language Learners] are marginalized every single day, such that when something like this happens, when their opportunities for a high quality, predictable, stable education are further diminished, it doesn't make the news. If the spring SAT were suddenly cancelled, parents across New York would be livid with the injustice, the change, the damage to their childrens' plan for their future.
When this happens to ELs, many of whom live alone or with a distant guardian, it's acceptable, even helpful to the greater good of the state.
Thanks for listening.