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RESPONSE TO THE  JUNE 1, 2011 NEW YORK TIMES ARTICLE : 

                          At Elite School, Longer Classes to Go Deeper

The Calhoun School, a Manhattan private school, has opted for longer classes in five short terms, a block schedule that has waned in popularity in public schools.



dc lambert
nj
June 1st, 2011
2:10 pm
What exactly is the point of this article? That wealthy students enjoy an in-depth, air conditioned, expensive education complete with expensive field trips not beholden to top down bullying 'standards' from the state and untouched by political sound bites? How on earth does that transfer to the experience of the majority of public school students? 

My own school, a high school in a low income district, has no air-conditioning. My room was over 100 degrees today. There is absolutely no way we could have a class over 45 minutes. As it is, we had one student faint from the heat today. We sit in half broken desks with no computers and very few books; many are covered in mold. We have rat, mice and cockroach infestation and mold grows from the ceiling panels. 

Many of our students come from highly dysfunctional homes and don't read at all; they arrive having had no breakfast, no health care for their illnesses - we have tons of asthma and migraines and mental health issues - and often from violence (documented). Many have fetal alcohol syndrome or were crack babies. Lest you think I am talking about race I am not--I am talking economics; most of my own students are white. They come in having had 3 hours of sleep because they don't live with their parents; they live alone, or on a couch because mom kicked them out; or mom is in jail and dad abandoned them. ANd so on. 

A two hour philosophical discussion on a book on the 17th century would be physically impossible in our school, and far beyond the abilities of our student population as it stands. Not only is this far, far beyond the abilities of most of our population (private schools pick and choose thier student body), but, even if it were, yOu can't have a two hour discussion in a 100 degree classroom on 3 hours of sleep and no breakfast, and your dad beat you, and you have bipolar disorder, but are not medicated because your parents have no health insurance. 

Our teachers are regularly attacked by the NJ governor as being 'fat' and 'lazy' and we are subjected to countless idiotic state sponsored tests with draconion punishments and threats. The last one was a Biology test that was different from last year and which isn't continuing, apparently, next year, and which has no apparent meaning. Some private corporation got a lot of money for it, though--we couldn't help noticing that as we unwrapped the stacks of testing papers, supplies, etc. 

Meanwhile here is this completely irrelevant article on a wealthy private school with cherry picked students that has the ample resources to do whatever it wants, and does. If students are violent or refuse to take thier medication, they kick them out just so everyone else can have two hours discussions. I am quite sure everyone has health insurance and no one sleeps on a couch. 

Why should I be interested in this article? So I can read it and covet? Or weep for our children?