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New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg (David Shankbone)
New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg's crusade against public education is filled with moments that would be ridiculous in their sheer affront to logic, if they weren't devastating people's lives. The New York Times' Michael Powell recounts one such case, of Brooklyn's Bushwick Community High School, where Bloomberg wants to lay off the principal and half the teachers before the start of the next school year, because most of the school's students take longer than six years to graduate from high school.
Students taking longer than six years to graduate from high school is a sign a high school isn't doing its job, right? Well, not if the school is, like Bushwick Community, a transfer high school, where students arrive at age 17 or 18 with few credits, having failed at other high schools. If you don't get students until three or four years after they've started high school, and they've maybe completed one year of classes since, it's a pretty fair bet they'll take longer than six years total to graduate.
Powell writes that:
To sit with a dozen of the students at a community center not far from the high school was to watch as one girl nursed a baby and another spoke of living with her child in a shelter. Two had been tossed out of their family homes. Another lived with her grandmother on Coney Island — she commutes one and a half hours each way to this high school in Bushwick. [...]
Yet the Education Department’s report card compares this school with other transfer schools, and gives it a 95 percent grade in improving student attendance, 90 percent for passing the English Regents exam and 100 percent for the math Regents.
But Bloomberg's answer to this is firing half the teachers; his Education Department presents it as an opportunity for the lucky students who are going to lose the teachers who have done what no other teachers could, and taken them from failing to graduating, maybe college-bound:
“This really empowers them to take ownership of this school,” a department spokesman said. “What kind of change can they imagine?”
These students have already changed. They've gone from being surefire high school dropouts to being on track for graduation. Now they face losing the educators and support system that brought them to this point, because Michael Bloomberg apparently doesn't know what a second chance looks like.