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Who We Are »
Betsy Combier

Help Us to Continue to Help Others »
Email: betsy.combier@gmail.com

 
The E-Accountability Foundation announces the

'A for Accountability' Award

to those who are willing to whistleblow unjust, misleading, or false actions and claims of the politico-educational complex in order to bring about educational reform in favor of children of all races, intellectual ability and economic status. They ask questions that need to be asked, such as "where is the money?" and "Why does it have to be this way?" and they never give up. These people have withstood adversity and have held those who seem not to believe in honesty, integrity and compassion accountable for their actions. The winners of our "A" work to expose wrong-doing not for themselves, but for others - total strangers - for the "Greater Good"of the community and, by their actions, exemplify courage and self-less passion. They are parent advocates. We salute you.

Winners of the "A":

Johnnie Mae Allen
David Possner
Dee Alpert
Joan Klingsberg
Harris Lirtzman
Hipolito Colon
Jim Calantjis
Larry Fisher
The Giraffe Project and Giraffe Heroes' Program
Jimmy Kilpatrick and George Scott
Zach Kopplin
Matthew LaClair
Wangari Maathai
Erich Martel
Steve Orel, in memoriam, Interversity, and The World of Opportunity
Marla Ruzicka, in Memoriam
Nancy Swan
Bob Witanek
Peyton Wolcott
[ More Details » ]
 
New York City DOE Employees, When in Danger of Being Held Accountable, Throw Documents Away. More Than Once.
Once again, confidential NYC Student information is discovered dumped onto the sidewalk, this time in the Bronx. Once again, the NYC DOE is trying very hard not to be held accountable for anything. Could the audit of NYS Special Education Office VESID, with a finding of massive misallocations and improprieties, be a reason for this illegal act? This sounds like the events that occurred in 2002 with Martin Luther King Jr. High School, only the boxes of confidential documents were dumped on Amsterdam and 65th Street... Betsy Combier
          
E-Accountability Opinion:

We have found the support of special needs children in New York City due to non-compliance with city, State and federal laws worse than ever before, therefore we are not surprised by the dumping of confidential records onto a Bronx sidewalk. We suggest that the DOE has acquired a "so what?" attitude because they have co-opted due process in this city and they have successfully sabotaged parents' rights to a fair trial and/or a fair hearing. DOE employees believe that there will be no consequences for their actions. The NYC DOE must cut staff throughout the city by 90% and hire an independent agency to handle assessments of performance, evaluations of children's needs/achievements and provide oversight of the Offices of Legal Services, Appeals and Reviews, District 75, Accountability, and any and all other agencies that assess and/or evaluate children, teachers, or administrators, including the Chancellor.

Secret school files dumped
By KATHLEEN LUCADAMO, KERRY BURKE and BOB PORT
DAILY NEWS STAFF WRITERS, November 14, 2004

LINK

Sitting on sidewalk, and already rummaged through by passersby before Daily News retrieved them, were 11 boxes of confidential info.

A decade's worth of tragic childhood tales - confidential records of students schooled at home because of horrible injuries or debilitating illnesses - were callously dumped last week on a Bronx street.

It was an absolutely startling thing to see: 300 pounds of very private papers, left just outside a Department of Education office like useless trash, sitting beside empty pizza boxes, old air conditioning filters and other recyclables.

Tucked inside hundreds of folders were sensitive, heartrending stories - children handicapped, children shot or beaten and children slowly dying of cancer.

By Thursday evening, pedestrians had begun to rummage through the intimate papers. Left in plain sight were medical and psychological reports for kids too ill to attend regular school.

"I want it back," pleaded Carol Lavin, a school aide in Queens, when she learned her son Brian's files were among those abandoned on the sidewalk. "I'm annoyed."

Brian was a high school junior in 1997 when circumstances his mother called "private business" caused him to be home-schooled. "I'm perturbed that it was out on the street."

"This is absolutely ridiculous!" a parent of a child with Hodgkin's disease shouted. "How dare they?"

Dumping the confidential files in the street for anyone to see appears to be a violation of state and federal laws, authorities said.

The Daily News retrieved 11 boxes of records Thursday night after the distraught parent of a special education student called to complain.

The News is safeguarding the files at its main office. City lawyers asked that records be returned, but many parents are demanding the files be given to them - seeing as how the city has mishandled them once before.

Detailed in the documents are names, dates of birth, home addresses, telephone numbers and even Social Security numbers for many of the 1,125 students from across the city who were home-schooled from 1987 to 1998.

The boxes also contain confidential information on thousands of other children, including 8,300 grade and attendance sheets, 6,200 computer printouts and an audit file.

In one of the many folders, a teacher chronicles the travails of a young woman who suffers from "a generalized anxiety disorder with phobic symptoms."

Another report notes that a foster child needs special instruction after his father died. "In the auditorium," the report says, "[the child] sucked his thumb, stuck out his tongue and made comments."

The file for a girl in the first grade at Public School 32 in Queens reads, "Diagnosis - Tumor (Confidential)."

The boxes were placed outside the headquarters for all of the city's home instruction programs at 3450 E. Tremont Ave. in the Bronx.

Two boxes had been ripped open when The News arrived.

Department of Education officials responded promptly.

"It shouldn't have happened," spokesman Jerry Russo said. "It was a breach of policy.

"They were placed mistakenly outside the building. You shred them. You don't just throw them out."

Details of what led to the sloppy disposal were unclear at week's end. Education officials referred the incident to Special Schools Investigator Richard Condon.

State law requires schools to archive old records and dis-pose of them according to a schedule. New York schools keep some records permanently and destroy others according to various timetables, officials said.

Federal law also applies to student records at schools receiving federal money.

"Under the Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act, a school must protect the confidentiality of student education records that it maintains," Susan Aspey, press secretary of the U.S. Department of Education, said Friday.

"It is the responsibility of the school district to protect those records from unauthorized disclosure," she said. "This would include inappropriate disposal."

None of the records left on the street appears to be current, although some of the students are still in school.

Virtually all the records contain confidential information.

Jill Chaifetz, executive director of Advocates for Children, a Manhattan agency that defends the rights of students who are home-schooled, was virtually speechless when she heard some of her clients' files were strewn across a street.

"It's a pretty egregious violation of the federal privacy act," Chaifetz said. "Families put their trust in the Education Department to keep information about their kids private just as you would expect your doctor to keep your medical files private."

The News - and the public - might never have learned of the tossed records without a phone call from a parent who asked not to be named. He said he was outraged after witnessing two people thumbing through the material.

"This is information about our most vulnerable children," the father said. "The first thing I thought is: I hope my child's stuff isn't in the boxes."

With Maria Ma


Dumper & dumber
News finds more school files tossed near Bronx office

By KATHLEEN LUCADAMO and ALISON GENDAR, DAILY NEWS STAFF WRITERS, November 16, 2004

LINK

News reporter Alison Gendar finds more student records in trash outside Education Department office in the Bronx yesterday.

Angry parent John Sierra visits the office with his son Joshua. School officials who were caught by the Daily News dumping confidential student records on a Bronx street apparently didn't learn their lesson.

A reporter returned to the Education Department's E. Tremont Ave. offices yesterday - where a decade's worth of sensitive files were found tossed on the curb Thursday - and discovered more student records stuffed in the garbage.

"How stupid can stupid be?" asked Ellen McHugh, who heads Parent to Parent, a statewide special education advocacy group, when told of the double-dumping in the Bronx. "Has anyone there ever heard of a shredder?"

Last week's files bungle made the front page of The News both Sunday and yesterday - spurring an investigation and an apology from the Education Department.

But apparently, nobody at the 3450 E. Tremont Ave. office got the message.

Typed across the top of many of the trashed documents found yesterday was a warning: "CONFIDENTIAL - FOLLOW SECURITY PROCEDURES, HEED RESTRICTIONS ON ACCESS, STORAGE, COPYING AND DISPOSAL."

Unlike documents recovered last week - which covered files of home-schooled students from 1987 to 1998 - papers found yesterday were current, in some cases as recent as Nov. 1.

"It is outrageous," said Regina Campbell, whose 13-year-old son's confidential therapy report was among the papers discovered yesterday amid empty pizza boxes, coffee cups and sandwich wrappers. "I'mcalling a lawyer."

Besides student report cards, The News found mental health records and lists of students' home addresses and telephone numbers in the latest mess.

"How can this be? Nobody should have their life thrown on the street like that," said Elia Ortiz, whose 13-year-old grandson's psychological evaluation, report cards and medical records were plucked from the rubbish yesterday. "It's not right."

School officials only bothered to drag the files off the street after a News reporter showed them the student records still left for the taking.

A maintenance employee was ordered to bring the garbage into the building's parking garage and sort it. "They told me to bring it inside after you went through it and made the mess," the handyman
said.

Bronx parent Miguel Cruz, who visited the school offices yesterday to get his stepson assigned to a new special education program, said the files scandal was the talk of the building.

"They were going crazy inside," Cruz said.

"The man in charge of the office called everyone together and told them from now on, everything has to be shredded, even if it's an Avon book," he added. "Now they are taking the problem seriously."

On Thursday, The News recovered 11 boxes of documents, detailing debilitating illnesses and horrible injuries suffered by students who needed to be home-schooled.

The 300 pounds of paper contained student names, birth dates and even Social Security numbers - raising fears of identity theft.

School officials who work at 3450 E. Tremont Ave. refused yesterday to comment or give their names.

"We never dump records," one educrat said as he scuttled inside. "Someone else, outside, must have left the records there - to create a story."

Originally published on November 16, 2004

Up for grabs
Some examples of students'intimate information left out in the open on a sidewalk:

11-year-old Brooklyn girl from District 13
"Seizure disorder" requires her to take "more than 30 pills a day. ... Has difficulty interacting appropriately with peers."

12th-grader at Telecommunications High School in Bay Ridge, Brooklyn
"In drug rehabilitation ... Currently in need of long-term hospitalization" for "psychiatric reasons."

15-year-old boy at Humanities High School in Manhattan
"Due to his psychotic disorder, which includes threatening behavior, refusing medication and refusing to attend school, it is imperative that he be placed in a residential psychiatric treatment center."

16-year-old pregnant girl attending Newtown High School in Queens
Doctor recommends homeschooling, saying girl is being treated at hospital's "high risk clinic." "She is under strict bed rest since her fetus is small."

5-year-old boy in Brooklyn, school not listed
"Not toilet-trained ... Born with a positive cocaine toxicity, alcohol fetal syndrome and other medical difficulties."

"Neurological damage "prevents regulation of urine and bowel movements."

14-year-old boy at Junior High School 101 in the Bronx
"Extremely insecure and his fantasy life can quickly affect his perceptions. Feelings of extreme anger and murderous rage were expressed."

"During lesson, [he] interrupted, argued, left the room, cursed and engaged in insulting the teacher with unprintable epithets."


Foulup is far from the first time
By BOB PORT
DAILY NEWS STAFF WRITER

New York City has a history of treating the intimate secrets of its most helpless citizens like trash.

Five times in the past four years, the city has been caught tossing confidential city files to the curb - so they could be rummaged through by anyone who wishes.

Twice the disregarded files were student records protected by federal law. Other incidents involved records of beaten and raped children, foster care families and AIDS patients.

"I would think that it would have been only reasonable to have ensured that nobody would ever see these records," said Bob Freeman, a records expert who heads the Committee on Open Government for New York's secretary of state.

"They should be disposed of by shredding them or burning them - something," he said.

Ironically, Freeman observed, government officials often cite privacy rights as an excuse for concealing public information about themselves. Freeman said when it comes to any government records, officials should focus on complying with the law.

When the Daily News contacted the city Law Department for comment on the thousands of home-schooled student records dumped in the Bronx, the Law Department did not respond.

The school records were trashed just over a year after The News reported in October 2003 how income tax returns, copies of birth certificates and methadone treatment records for city welfare recipients were dumped outside a Bronx public assistance office.

Columbia University journalism student Meredith Mandell was ejected from the city facility when she raised questions about the trash.

In August 2003, The News found child abuse records sitting for 11 days outside a Brooklyn social services office.

In May 2003, records for foster children were found in a Dumpster outside an office of Little Flower Children's Services, a Catholic-sponsored agency under contract with the city.

In June 2002, thousands of confidential student documents were piled in front of Manhattan's Martin Luther King Jr. High School, and in March 2000, a City Council member made headlines when she saw city workers dumping AIDS patient records into a West Village sidewalk Dumpster.


From parentadvocates.org Editor Betsy Combier:

A source at Martin Luther King High School told us, a few days after boxes of confidential student information held at the school were dumped onto the sidewalk in 2002 (see below), that Superintendent of Manhattan High Schools Welton Sawyer - now in Topeka, Kansas - was so upset that these documents had been discovered and IN READABLE FORM that he immediately hired a high school student to retrieve documents not picked up by the sanitation trucks and told this student to shred them in his office. He did not seem to be disturbed by the documents being out on the sidewalk in the first place, only that pictures of the boxes were in the news. As far as we know, nothing was done to hold anyone accountable for this.

Martin Luther King Jr. High School was cited by a parent, Dr. B, in 2000 and 2001, as having a lack of security at the school. This parent asked for an accounting of the money going to special education and Title I, as well as other money that was unaccounted for. She received no answers to her questions, but in January, 2002 several students were shot in the school, then in April 2002 the New York City Board of Education voted to close the high school and break it up into smaller schools. In June, all the records were spotted by the media out on the sidewalk at 65th and Amsterdam, waiting for the sanitation trucks to haul it away. We guess this how New York City "policy" implementation works...the policy of getting rid of evidence whenever and however you can, in order to be free from accountability for whatever goes wrong:

Press Release
New Yorkers Against Gun Violence
666 Broadway
New York, NY 10012

Another Senseless Shooting Highlights the Problem of Teens' Easy Access to Firearms

New York, NY - On the anniversary of the birth of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., New Yorkers Against Gun Violence (NYAGV) reacts with sadness at the report of a shooting in a school in New York City. Early this afternoon, two young boys were severely injured inside Martin Luther King, Jr. High School on Manhattan's Upper West Side.

While complete details concerning the origin of the gun have not been disclosed, we do know that young people continue to find ways to easily obtain guns and ammunition. Once again, the questions to be asked are - where did the gun come from and who supplied it to the young person? Andy Pelosi, Executive Director of New Yorkers Against Gun Violence stated, "According to a November 2000 report from the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms, nearly 80 percent of crime guns traced in New York City come from out of state -- from states with lax gun laws. New York City and other major cities sit at the mercy of the flood of illegal weapons nationwide, while too many guns easily end up in the hands of our youth. Congress' inability to close the gun show loophole and pass other sensible gun measures allows these types of tragedies to continue to plague us."

In 2000, New York State signed into law sweeping gun violence prevention measures that included closing the gun show loophole and creating a gun trafficking interdiction program. While budget deficits on the state level loom, full funding of the gun trafficking interdiction program should be one priority that will help save lives while reducing the flow of illegal weapons into New York City.

The young people of our city and state deserve better leadership on the part of our elected officials. We need to pass strong laws that make it difficult for guns to fall into the hands of young people.

Gun Violence Prevention Groups

For more information, contact:
Andy Pelosi at 212-674-3710


BET.com
Two Students Shot at New York City High School
From staff and wire reports

Posted Jan. 15, 2001 (New York) -- Two students were shot and wounded on Tuesday at Martin Luther King Jr. High School in New York City, police said. Police still were seeking the shooter in the incident, which occurred about 2 p.m. (ET) on the birthday of the slain civil rights leader after whom the high school was named.

Andrel Napper, 17, was shot in the back, and Andre Wilkens, 18, was shot in the shoulder, Schools Chancellor Harold Levy said outside the school in Manhattan's Upper West Side. The motive remained unclear, but Levy said there were indications it could have been gang related.

The two students were reportedly listed in serious but stable condition at St. Vincent Hospital. Officials said their injuries were not life-threatening.

A gun was recovered on the fifth floor of the high school, police said. Police sealed off the building while they searched it. The school is one of many New York City public schools that uses metal detectors in an effort to prevent students from bringing weapons inside. Some 3,000 students attend the school.

"For this to happen on Martin Luther King's birthday is bad, for something like this to happen in school is tragic," said 17-year-old student Crystal Williams.

Another student, 15-year-old James Carter, said he was taking a science test when he heard two gunshots outside his classroom.

"I went to the floor and threw my test in the air," he said.

WEDNESDAY, APRIL 24, 2002
6:00 P.M.

BY ORDER OF THE BOARD OF EDUCATION:

THERE WILL BE NO PUBLIC AGENDA MEETING FOR THE MONTH OF APRIL.

Secretary Ron LeDonni

BOARD OF EDUCATION OF THE CITY OF NEW YORK
HALL OF THE BOARD
110 LIVINGSTON STREET
BROOKLYN, N.Y. 11201


AUTHORIZATION FOR THE CLOSING OF MARTIN LUTHER KING, JR., HIGH SCHOOL AND THE ESTABLISHMENT OF THE MARTIN LUTHER KING, JR., HIGH SCHOOL FOR
LAW, ADVOCACY AND COMMUNITY JUSTICE AND THE MARTIN LUTHER KING, JR.,
HIGH SCHOOL FOR ARTS AND TECHNOLOGY, MANHATTAN HIGH SCHOOLS SUPERINTENDENCY


The Chancellor presents the following resolutions for adoption:

WHEREAS, the Superintendent of Manhattan High Schools and the Martin Luther King, Jr.,
High School community, after careful consideration and review of the instructional needs of the school's students, educational programs and student outcomes, determines that it was not in the students' best interests to continue the operation of Martin Luther King, Jr., High School and recommended that the school be closed; and

WHEREAS, the Superintendent of Manhattan High Schools, along with a planning committee that included teachers, members of the United Federation of Teachers and the Council of Supervisors and Administrators, and parents, identified two themes for programs that would capitalize on the interests of young people and serve as a basis for the establishment of two separate high schools designed to supplant the organization currently occupying Martin Luther King, Jr., High School; now, therefore, be it

RESOLVED, That the Board of Education authorizes the closing of Martin Luther King, Jr.,
High School, after a three-year phase-out period beginning September 1, 2002 and ending
June 30, 2005, with a final graduating class in June 2005; and be it further

RESOLVED, That the Board of Education hereby establishes two high schools, the
Martin Luther King, Jr., High School for Law, Advocacy and Community Justice and the
Martin Luther King, Jr., High School for Arts and Technology, as 9th-12th grade educational option schools with admissions priority for Manhattan residents; and be it further

RESOLVED, That each of the two high schools, to be located at 122 Amsterdam Avenue,
New York, New York 10023, will open in September 2002, with approximately 200 students in grade 9, adding a grade yearly until each high school reaches its target population of approximately 800 students in grades 9-12; and be it further

RESOLVED, That the principal of the Martin Luther King, Jr., High School for Law, Advocacy and Community Justice and the principal of the Martin Luther King, Jr., High School for Arts and Technology will be rated annually by the Superintendent of Manhattan High Schools; and be it further

RESOLVED, That the allocations to each of the two high schools will be based on formulas currently used by the Manhattan High Schools Superintendency to distribute funds to high schools.

EXPLANATION

The Superintendent of Manhattan High Schools and the Martin Luther King, Jr., High School community reviewed the instructional needs of the school's students, the educational programs being implemented and student outcomes. While efforts on the part of the school's administration and staff to implement change and improve student performance have been made, student attendance and achievement have not improved. It was, therefore, decided that it was not in the students' best interests to continue the operation of Martin Luther King, Jr., High School. As a result, the school will be closed. A three-year phase-out period, which begins on September 1, 2002 and ends June 30, 2005, will enable students currently enrolled in Martin Luther King, Jr., High School to graduate. The Manhattan High School Superintendency will provide opportunities for accelerated credit accumulation, academic intervention services, and/or after school, weekend and summer programs to ensure the timely graduation of the remaining students. In addition, the Office of High School Admissions will be responsible for the placement of currently enrolled students who wish to transfer into other high schools.

Two small, individual high schools, the Martin Luther King, Jr., High School for Law, Advocacy and Community Justice and the Martin Luther King, Jr., High School for Arts and Technology, will be established and developed simultaneously within the Martin Luther King, Jr., High School Complex. Each of the two high schools will open in September 2002 with approximately 200 students in grade 9, adding a grade yearly until each high school reaches its target population of approximately 800 students in grades 9-12.

The Martin Luther King, Jr., High School for Law, Advocacy and Community Justice will have, as its guiding pedagogical principle, a thematic law, advocacy and justice curriculum, combined with developmental experiences exploring law and advocacy outside the classroom. The school, still named for Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., will preserve the important themes of Dr. King's work involving the advocacy of social justice and non-violent resolution of conflict. The new school will ensure that these themes will be an integral part of the student's academic experience.

The Martin Luther King, Jr., High School for Arts and Technology will utilize an interdisciplinary, team-taught instructional design model that allows for flexible scheduling in which students are fully engaged in integrated, thematic, standards-based courses of study with real world learning opportunities. Students will have the opportunity to work with technology and arts professionals through in-house residencies and external field experiences, while developing their capabilities to become productive members of the work force and the communities in which they live.

The Martin Luther King, Jr., High School for Law, Advocacy and Community Justice and the Martin Luther King, Jr., High School for Arts and Technology will be located at 122 Amsterdam Avenue, New York, New York 10023. Sufficient space exists at that site to accommodate present and future needs of the two high schools.

And then, the records are dumped on the sidewalk:

ED BOARD PROBES DUMPING OF HS' PRIVATE FILES
New York Daily News; New York, N.Y.; Jun 30, 2002; TRACY CONNOR DAILY NEWS STAFF WRITER;

Abstract:
Boxes of files that included student Social Security numbers, addresses, telephone numbers, grades and disciplinary and medical records were left overnight Friday on W. 65th St. near Amsterdam Ave.

"I think it's appalling," said Trinal Branford, the mother of a 10th-grader whose file was discarded. "I was very upset her Social Security was sprawled across the sidewalk. And I want to know why they're throwing out my child's files in the first place."

Full Text:
Copyright Daily News, L.P. Jun 30, 2002

The Board of Education has launched an investigation to determine who dumped thousands of confidential student documents on the sidewalk in front of Manhattan's Martin Luther King Jr. High School - in apparent violation of federal regulations.

Boxes of files that included student Social Security numbers, addresses, telephone numbers, grades and disciplinary and medical records were left overnight Friday on W. 65th St. near Amsterdam Ave.
"Obviously, it's a distressing lack of judgment on the part of whoever threw it out," board spokesman Kevin Ortiz said last night. "It's something we are taking extremely seriously."

'It's appalling'

Federal authorities require schools to protect the personal information of their students and to destroy files such as the ones left on the street.

"I think it's appalling," said Trinal Branford, the mother of a 10th-grader whose file was discarded. "I was very upset her Social Security was sprawled across the sidewalk. And I want to know why they're throwing out my child's files in the first place."

After the Board of Education was alerted, school officials were dispatched to the high school yesterday - but the Sanitation Department had already removed the pile.

"We're not sure when it was put out, or who put it out," Ortiz said, noting there are several high schools and administrative offices in the area. He said the high school superintendent plans to meet with district custodians to find out who authorized the disposal.


Small Is Beautiful
By Candice Anderson
When two students were shot on January 15th in a dispute at Martin Luther King Jr. High School in Manhattan, the event spurred another highly visible discussion about public school safety. Shortly after the shootings, Schools Chancellor Harold Levy announced that his visit to the school had revealed a flaw in school security, and vowed to beef it up. But security systems can only go so far. The school's troubled history has been exacerbated by its size. King has 2,600 students.

Large schools are often impersonal places where young people slip by unnoticed. That such alienation has the potential to lead to violence has been well-documented. A study by the Bank Street College of Education found that this isolation and alienation can be eased in small schools.

"In small schools," says Deborah Meir, who has founded several small public schools in New York City, "we're more likely to pass on to students the habits of heart and mind that define an educated person -- not only formally, in lesson plans and pedagogical gimmicks, but in hallway exchanges, arguments about important matters, and resolution of ordinary differences. We're more likely to show kids in our daily discourse that grown-ups use reasoning and evidence to resolve issues."

In a school system responsible for educating 1.1 million students in more than 1,100 schools, the issue of size -- both of the overall system and of individual schools -- has been a central theme in the public debate about school improvement. Over the past nine years, the New York City schools have experienced a vast amount of growth as a result of immigration, with annual increases of 20,000 students a year between 1992 and 1998 and 5,000 annually between 1998 and 2000. Growing enrollment has led to larger and larger class sizes and overcrowding, particularly in high schools, which now operate at 112 percent of capacity.

Under the pressures of educating a diverse student body with an array of needs, New York City has had mixed results. During the 1999-2000 school year, only 50 percent of high school students graduated in four years and just 27 percent of these students graduated with a Regent's diploma. The graduation rate for students attending Martin Luther King Jr. High School, for example, was 38 percent, significantly lower than the already poor city average.

A year ago, Citizens Committee for Children, the advocacy group where I work, conducted a survey of 1,001 public high school students that found that those in smaller schools had more positive experiences than students in larger schools. This extended to their interactions with teachers, class size and preparation for the state Regent's examinations. For example, more than half of students in high schools with less than 2,000 youngsters said they would seek a teacher's help with school work, while only 28 percent of students in larger schools said they would. Almost 8 in 10 students in the smaller schools said they definitely expected to graduate, compared to just over two thirds of students in larger schools.
While many different factors combine to create successful schools, particularly in urban areas and among underprivileged children, small schools are likely to provide for an understanding of each child's background and educational needs and for more individual attention. Studies have found that smaller schools can reduce the negative effects of poverty on student achievement, helping to narrow the gap between students from less affluent communities and those from wealthier areas. Reports also find that small schools are more effective at graduating students than larger ones.

Further, small schools are less expensive -- when results are taken into account. Smaller schools spend more per youngster, but more students graduate. A study by the Institute for Education and Social Policy found that it costs $49,554 to educate a student who graduates in four years from a New York City high school with 600 or fewer students

 
© 2003 The E-Accountability Foundation