"A child's learning is the function more of the characteristics of his classmates than those of the teacher." James Coleman, 1972

Tuesday, March 03, 2009

No Snow Days for the Children's Chain Gang

From the New York Times:
Pity the poor third graders of Harlem Success Academy 1.

Neither eight inches of snow, nor icy gusts up to 35 miles per hour, nor temperatures topping out at 28 degrees were enough to keep them from test preparation on Monday. While 1.1 million other New York City schoolchildren passed their first snow day in five years by sledding — or, perhaps, skiing on Wii — these 50 or so charter school students trudged to class in blue and orange uniforms and spent four hours studying rectangles and Rosa Parks. The cafeteria was closed, but the school provided Subway sandwiches and hot chocolate.

“I wanted to play my video games and play snow fights and build snowmen,” said Aboubakr Gbane, 8. “I wanted to sleep all day — until night — and then at night I would get extra sleep.”

Instead, Aboubakr learned about biographies and segregation, knowing that he would be chided for even a peek out the classroom window.

Monday’s snow day was a rarity in New York: the fifth since 1982. Rather than contend with bus delays and school entrances blocked by mounds of snow, Chancellor Joel I. Klein decided at 5:40 a.m. that classes would not go on at the city’s 1,499 public schools.

His decision postponed by a day state math tests for third, fourth and fifth graders scheduled to start on Tuesday, and delayed Monday’s deadline for kindergarten applications until Friday.

But Eva S. Moskowitz, the former city councilwoman who runs three other charter schools in Harlem, decided Sunday that Harlem Success Academy 1 would be open — at least for third graders, the only ones taking the tests.

“This is New York — we’re, like, tough cookies here,” she said Monday. “I was ready to come in this morning and crank the heating boilers myself if I had to.” . . . .
I suppose a little boiler stoking wouldn't be too much to ask of a charter school CEO who makes more than the NYC Chancellor of Schools.

What a picture, these children trudging through the snow in their workhouse orange outfits, resigned to another day of "no excuses" schooling, too young to appreciate the bitter irony of learning about Rosa Parks from within their world of unchallenged American apartheid.

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