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Know Your Rights
Source: WABC-TV
Subject: Education Justice
Type: Media Coverage

A Look at the City’s ‘Impact Schools’

(New York – WABC, December 21, 2006) – It was one of the mayor’s big school reforms — the creation of what are called "impact schools." The goal? Safer environments for students to learn.

But the impact of more security can discourage some students from showing up.

Newtown High School was named an "impact school" last April, meaning it had more than its share of violent incidents. Now, it has lots of school security guards which, some students say, makes it safer.

But a recent study done through Fordham University says that heavy school security, and the atmosphere around "impact schools" themselves, do not go hand-in-hand with student achievement.

According to the research, the impact schools are below the city average in students meeting math standards, in spending per student and in attendance. The study links the attendance figures directly to school policing methods.

"Crime is down statistically, but also, kids aren’t going to school anymore and that can’t be the way we solve violence … by making school someplace they don’t want to be," Researcher Sharon Balmer said.

These students do not attend impact schools, but face heavy security at their schools, are part of an after school program in Bushwick sponsored by the not-for-profit group called Make The Road By Walking.

"To me, school is not important anymore because of this…and it’s not even the school; it’s the security guards, the cameras and the metal detectors," student (and Make the Road by Walking Youth Power Project member) Ninoska Valverde said.

The three high schools that have remained on the impact list since it was initiated in 2004, attendance has steadily declined each year.

"We believe that if the money from the metal detectors and from the cameras were used for things like funding us with books, up-to-date technology and other things that are usable, that will benefit us instead of making us feel like criminals, that school would run more smoothly," principal Adilka Pimental said.

Today, the Department of Education said "We will continue to work to build a culture and raise the academic achievement of these schools."

(Copyright 2006 WABC-TV)