Tag Archive: students

Admission Policy Troubles aren’t new

Admission Policy Troubles Aren’t New


When I was in high school, one of my classmates younger sister was denied admission, and her family sued the school for racial discrimination saying that the policy gave an unfair advantage to minority students.   There were established quotas and they said that Elizabeth outperformed the minorities on the list and should have been admitted.   The suit was settled and City Honors changed   from a single exam to more criteria based assessment.   I’m not sure what the racial make up of the school is like but as a minority there, I know that we were definitely in the minority, especially when compared to the next ranked high school, Hutch-Tech.  I somewhat remember that the next year class looked conspicuously caucasian and that in the back of my mind I had this nagging feeling that some person would come out to question my right to be there.  I wonder if Elizabeth has any minority friends from her high school class.   Imagine her in a class where all the minorities students know that she feels that she should have displaced any one of them.   (Elizabeth lives here in New York City as well.  I ran into her at Target.   She teachers people with disabilities, and I think that awesome.)

I can see why her family would bring the lawsuit up.  City Honors is a public school. It offers higher level classes and in comparison to many schools nationwide it is a beacon of light.   When I think about the class environment or the way I would like to teach, I think of my experiences there.  I had a right to be and it takes a lot of gumption to challenge admission standards from the Zagare’s perspective. I think that the quotas that had been mandated by state law served a purpose so that you don’t end up with a lily-white school.  It’s proven that economic advantages or disadvantages tie into performance in school. In a city such as Buffalo where race and poverty are almost married to each other, nothing good could come of pretending that race isn’t a factor.  Unfortunately, the school decided that race shouldn’t be a determining factor, and that other criteria should also be established.   Which is ok, I think that there should be criteria, but there should be a quota.   As is impossible as it seems, there could be a chance that not enough minorities met that criteria and then you end up with a school population that thought it is supposedly the best and the brightest the city has to offer, it looks nothing representatively like what the city population looks like.   And it should look like the best and brightest of all the city, not just a segment of the city.

Or else you end up  the mess that we have here at the Specialized High Schools here in NYC.

Right now the admission policy for the New York City Specialized High School is being challenged as unfair.  It’s being argued that depending on one test score simply discriminates against minorities.  Newsday reports “Mulgrew said many minority students now excluded from Stuyvesant High School, Bronx High School of Science, Brooklyn Technical High School and five other specialized high schools deserve to be there. Only about two dozen African-Americans and Latinos were among the more than 3,000 students admitted to Specialized High Schools this year, while they represent about 70 percent of the city’s 1.1 million public school students.” Which is appalling- the numbers speak for themselves.  It simply is ridiculous.   Is it something wrong with the test and the way it’s written?   Are there reasons why African-American and Latino students aren’t performing well enough on it?  Do they need more support or strategies for test taking?  Are enough just not applying?  

Read the facts again- this time from the New York Times –

The numbers disclosed by the Education Department showed that of the 28,000 students citywide who took the Specialized High School Admissions Test, 5,701 of them were offered seats. Although 70 percent of the city’s public school students are black and Hispanic, blacks were offered 5 percent of the overall seats and Hispanics 7 percent — the same as a year ago. Asians were offered 53 percent of the seats, compared with 50 percent a year ago; whites were offered 26 percent of seats, compared with 24 percent a year ago.”

As unpopular as it sounds- maybe quotas should be applied to the specialized High School.  Maybe the Specialized schools should be considered Magnet programs.  Researcher Marcy Crouch reports that  “ voluntary-magnet programs to be successful at reaching racial integration goals and maintaining those proportions. As more cities throughout the United States implement magnet programs not only will students of all races benefit from superior educational opportunities, they will also experience voluntary racial integration which will hopefully provide a solid foundation of open-mindedness for living in this multi-racial country.” The gifted and talented should have a place to go, but again, I think that publicly funded schools should at least honor the public.  I think what sucks is that no minority has filed a lawsuit for discrimination.  I would be highly interested in seeing the arguments for why the specialized schools should remain as exclusive as they are.   At the very least, portfolio  assessments and other criteria must be considered.   Or else call those schools, private schools and let them fend for themselves.

-Chester Kent


Read this

My comments? Simple…

Just send the 13 year old girl to therapy. Oh, and slap her momma. Ban them both for the Internet or reporters ever again.

Give the 12 year old an order of protection and her dad a medal for taking this seriously.

-Chester kent

Bittersweet Symphony

Bittersweet Symphony

So Degrassi did it. A popular character committed suicide. I finally re-watched the episode. It was tough and I still have tears drying in my face. I’ve invested a lot n these characters, much in the way I have when I’ve had students who are open.

I am very well acquainted with death, suicide and all that. My high school existence/ experience probably wasn’t as bad as I remember it, but I don’t want to open the coffins that I’ve buried those memories in. As I’ve dealt with more and more types of students, I’ve noticed it’s school isn’t as it was for me, and the skills we need to adapt aren’t ever fully comprehensible because who knows what we have to adapt to. Really, what I mean to say is, everything is different for everyone, and the worst we can do is forget that. Some people can travel miles on the road, and for some the body or the mind just “can’t.”

I’m learning what kind of educator I want to be. I realize a different skill or pet peeve everyday. From my frustrations, I see that I hope my legacy will not be that some kid recalls that I taught him or her how to do such and such, but rather that they can do such and such and without having to recall. That such and such isn’t a problem. That it is second nature.
I’d rather be there for my students as someone effective, progressive, challenging and ultimately someone they understood wasn’t doing it for just a paycheck (even if that is what it feels like right now.). I have an interest in improving the world for them and showing them something more than Pelham Parkway, or the blocks of city South of where their school is. I wish to make them anlittle more considerate of their siblings who look up to them or to the casual 2, , A of whatever train they plan on terrorizing on the way home.

A student in California also name Campbell also committed suicide. Sad right. A page right out of Degrassi.
Life and art align or imitate each other and it’s sad. The hardest part of life is living it, and moving on when people don’t. I certainly haven’t gotten most things right. And I’m certain I’m probably going to get a helluva lot more wrong. Different pathways for different people,

But back to Degrassi…..
The Two parts of the episodes were not directly too hard to understand but are hard to forget.That is, the characters all suffered through some part of the grief cycle. Dallas, the hockey captain, felt anger with himself for pushing Cam to hard. Maya, Cam’s girlfriend, spent most of the second part in shock. Her pain was palpable when she pondered “When are people going to stop looking at me as the girlfriend of the kid who killed himself.” The actors did a fantastic job, and I could, as I can always- see this episode as a sounding board for the topic in advisory or home room. Some of these episodes are Public Service Announcements. And while the idea is “corny”. PSA ‘s really do reach some people.

All of this is convoluted and dense I know, but I just spent some time mourning a tv show character and a few of my friends I’ve lost on broken roads. But we go on until we can’t right?

[Chester Kent]

Raving Lunatics (Part 2 – The school for awful girls academy)

The first thing that I noticed at the school was that all the teachers had their doors closed. The halls when empty where quiet. But inside the rooms, it was hell.

For high school students, these girls had no self-restraint. They couldn’t even listen to each other. They refused to do anything. I tried different approaches to rally student I would meet a different student each day that was slightly more insane, disrespectful, and in some cases more ignorant. When a student who had been intent on ruining my lesson on Dr. King’s “Letter from a Birmingham Jail” remarked

why I care about what was happening to dem Niggas during segregation. Segregation is over. Anyway, I’m Dominican, and I wouldn’t need to walk through the same door as Niggas.”

I thought I might walk out then and there. But I stayed my ground and dove into that “I’m getting paid for this…life ambition…calling, etc place.

I would come to visit that happy imaginative place many times over the next few days. Hell, I lived there.

The behavior and I guess hygiene of those girls was so bad that the school actually had an Ethics class. In this class, it taught them how to be ladylike. To comb their hair and get pretty at home. The woman actually had to lecture these Beautiful Intelligent Talented Creative Hoochies because too many of them didn’t know not come to school raggedly and do their nails during class. (Fail and Fail. One girl decided that she needed to do her nails, and moved her seat every time I asked her to stop. Did she really think I was that stupid that I would think she was different girl each time?) During that class, in which besides me there were two other teachers, and 3 paras. One would think that this was overkill and simply too much firepower, and one would be wrong. I actually had to sit my chair next to a group of especially chatty girls, and then after that, I had to make them play musical chairs. The presenter had allowed breaks for student exercises and involvement. I compared notes with her on the general school environment, as she was as much a guest as I was;our conversation involved how some children just shouldn’t be allowed to detract from others especially in cooperative groups. As always, we wondered what happened to self discipline. There was no need for the excessive chatter. In my day and age, we passed notes. But guess that would count on this girl to actually form a complete sentence.

As I was on the way to the bus after school, I ran into the two girls. One of them said “We aint at school, so what you goin say to me now, Mista.” I put my earbuds back in and listened to another song on my Ipod. I had nothing to say to her. I mean, what I wanted to say would be quite informative in what she could do to herself, but that alas would not be professional.

Never going back there again!

[Chester Kent]

No Confidence In Them (subtitled I tried.)

The job assignment was for a few days. Couldn’t really turn down the opportunity to be a real teacher, to build rapport with students, to gossip and have chit chat with colleagues in the teacher salvation panic room and just be stable but not stationary.

The job assignment was English. Not common branches. There were no assignments or notes in the system, which is not any different than how it normally is. I did my research on InsideSchools.org, and I looked at similar schools in the area. I grabbed my lesson plan template, and looked at what other teachers across the nation had posted in reference to that age group. 6th grade for a week or so. Just girls. I coached myself to it, but knew that the only way to really know, would be after the first day there.

The morning of, I donned a tie and even considered wearing a blazer, or sports coat underneath my winter coat. Sure, I’d probably be burning alive on the train, and for the quick walk that I’d have to take, but all would be well.

As the third alarm of the morning shrieked from my phone, I became anxious. The third alarm is the proximity to the door alarm. The third alarm is meant to remind me that my bag should be packed, and that everything that i need better be in their because when that fourth alarm goes off, it’s all “GOOO.” As Lady MacBeth said to to MacBeth to encourage him to do something most would consider crazy, I know that the forth alarm is screaming “Screw thy courage to the sticking place.” (Just do the damn thing, yo.) And I got ready to leave, I realized that I had been the one screwed. The school address of the one to which I would report was different, and incredibly much farther than the one that I had anticipated going to. By about an hour and fifteen minutes.

The tie was in my pocket as I hurried to the subway, and pondered how I could make this mistake. The answer…..Easily I Hadn’t. The school which I reported to had been originally been something else. But for whatever reason they had that name taken from them because of performance and another school was publicly using it. The school of “Raving Girls who DOn’t Care” thought used the name in the system still because it sounds better than the school for “Raving Girls Who Don’t Care” and because of such they were able to still recruit people to come there. The payroll secretary shrugged her shoulders when I mentioned the mix-up and address in the system. She said she’d need to get around to it, but year afterwards is “C’mon, who are you fooling?> Especially when you meet the girls.

Part 2 is coming…..


There’s a lot to attend to but my efforts will fail to even parse most of it. Currently, I’m serving as as replacement for a co teacher at a school in the Bronx. co-teacher because except of one period, generally it’s supposed to be two teachers. Let me state that these boys and girls need the extra help too. Generally, they are classified as D-level special Ed. The sad thing with the kids being below level is that none of them are ell’s, and only a few (out of the 25or so) have IEP’s. It’s also sad that so many skip or miss days of school. My mother was never a lenient as these kids parents seem to be about attendance.

One thing of joy/stress is my Art History class, which is my art history class. Not sure what their other teacher had taught them but I’ve restarted teaching them the principles and basic elements on art so that I can mold their responses to art work to sound intellectual. I’ve been integrating my iPad into the class room so much in this regard. For example, drew this picture to allow them to describe the details in regards to shape, form, line, and space. I had provided the scaffolding and prior knowledge. I’m curious/dreading to read their responses.

I’m curious for yours too, gentle reader. How do you like my digital art?


Racism against Whites I

I encountered the most ignorant and quite potentially the most angry student I have ever met. In fact, the entire situation made me seriously take a pause and really examine if i had the fortitude to substitute anymore. Even worst was that well i developed anger at myself, and had to really question as to whether I want to be in the education field or actually any career that is people oriented.
Take a look at the following picture and just image where this story is going.