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

Crisis in New York City middle schools?

Parents and activists are calling it a crisis.

They say too many middle schools in New York City are pathways to failure.

And tonight, they’re calling for a major turnaround.

Education reporter Art McFarland has the story.

I.S. 33 is being phased out of a building that houses several schools in Bed-Stuy because the middle school could not make the grade. Former student Darius Brown describes life at the school.

"Students don’t listen, and teachers can’t handle them," Brown said. "So they don’t really teach them that much."

A demonstration was held Tuesday on the steps of education headquarters to call attention to a new report on city middle schools.

"They are failing our children drastically," said Carol Boyd, of the New York City Coalition of Educational Justice (Make the Road by Walking is a member). "And by the time they all reach high school, they are so far behind that they’re so frustrated, they have no alternative but to drop out."

The report points out that in middle schools with low math and english scores, few advanced math and science courses are offered. Also, teachers in these schools are less experienced and less likely to be certified than those in better middle schools.

"There are a few middle schools which are doing well, which are serving advantaged kids," said Norm Fructer, of the Coalition. "There’s a huge number of middle schools that are doing badly that are serving disadvantaged kids."

As for the students, most are poor and almost all are black or latino.

The parents and activitsts obviously got the attention of the Department of Education, but the department says it has already taken detailed steps to improve the city’s middle schools.

The department says it is spending an additional $40 million per year to help struggling middle schoolers and has closed failing middle schools, while creating so-called small learning communities within large middle schools.

But advocates and their supporters want more.