The New Rochelle School Board recently approved a major change in how our children will graduate in 2011. The New Rochelle High School class of 2011 will now be certified. This means that if you meet your goals and adhere to required credits to graduate, you will be allowed to walk on graduation day. Thus, New Rochelle finally is in compliance with what every other school district has been doing for years. A little late for many students who were allowed to walk on graduation day, yet did not attend or complete promised summer sessions. I always believed that all NRHS graduations should be certified. In my mind, certification acknowledge the work of those students who did their homework, passed a test, came to class and generally did what every student should be doing in school. What the district allowed for many years was to diminish the value of graduation. There were no consequences for the students who cut class continuously, didn’t do their work or who did not received a proper education. They all knew that even if they had less than required graduation credits, they would march in June.
So, now we have a Certified Graduation. What will this mean? In the most recent NYS Dept of Education statistics, our graduation rate was less than 75% (our black and Hispanic students graduated at less than 60%). The NR school administration continues to boast that 95% of our graduating seniors go on to college. I would like to see proof of this? In the last two years, I have inquired in my community on the status of our children’s post-HS experience and it is not 95% that are going on to college. The school district will keep these statistics secret from the community. They will not share them freely or willingly. You must ask them through a freedom of information request. In other words, you must threaten the school district with legal sanctions before they give you something less than what you requested. Why do they do this? Do they really care about our children? Do they really care about engaging our parents in the practice of partnering for a better educational system. We may not be educators with PhD’s, but many of us have good ideas; many of us have common sense and we live the reality in our community. Most of the NR school administration does not live in New Rochelle. They don’t walk the streets of Union Avenue or North Ave or shop or eat on Main Street. The system is broken in one of the middle schools and the high school. We need new solutions, new leaders who will be creative, innovative and courageous. We don’t need people waiting to retire on a fat pension not giving an ounce of concern for our children. There are many good teachers in our elementary schools that are doing an exceptional job, but their hard work is stifle when their students reach IYMS or the HS. How disrespectful of the district; how sad.