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“My calculus book is copyright 1984…but we DID get new metal detectors this year.”

January 25, 2011

This video is a must watch. Students, teachers, and parents recently turned out in force to defend Jamaica High School in Queens, which currently faces closure. Members of the school community spoke to highlight the gains they’ve managed to make over the years, despite substantial hardships including deep cuts in teaching and support staff, fewer advanced course options, no electives, and declining building space as a result of four simultaneous co-locations. They also highlight the historic (and ongoing) inequities the school and its students have endured, and demand equal treatment from the NYC Department of Education.

12 Comments leave one →
  1. January 25, 2011 7:37 am

    Dept. Chancellor John White, overseeing this hearing and whose words started it out, met with jeers and booing, is a 2010 grad of the Broad Superintendent Academy.

    • January 25, 2011 10:12 am

      Hmm…I know how I feel about these folks based on observation, but does anyone know anything about the explicit curriculum there? How do all of these people end up being callous and hostile to communities?

  2. January 25, 2011 11:32 am

    I can’t watch the video from here, but the headline seems particularly wrongheaded. The basic principles of calculus were developed hundreds of years ago, and nothing new has occurred since 1984 that is on the K-12 level.

    One of the best books you can find on calculus is “Calculus Made Easy,” which was originally written in 1910.

    So again, not knowing the full context of the remark, it seems obvious to me that if you have a violent school that needs metal detectors in the first place, then working metal detectors would be hugely more important than the publication date of the calculus books.

    • January 25, 2011 1:22 pm

      The full quote describes the ways their school has been deprived of many of the same materials and resources they’ve lost, including teachers, courses, and up-to-date technology. While calculus itself may not have changed, my guess (having worked with students) is that a textbook that’s older than I am is probably not in the best or most complete condition.

      As for the metal detectors, I haven’t found much evidence that the school is especially dangerous when compared to other schools. For what it’s worth, last I checked, schools in suburban areas out here that have had actual shootings still don’t use metal detectors. It’s very telling that schools serving Black and Brown kids are often outfitted in this prison-like manner, when schools in Whiter communities where we know students have been violent aren’t. And I’m not saying those schools necessarily should be decked out with guards and barbed wire either; the best way to prevent school violence is to cultivate personal relationships with and among students, so they know that school is a place where people care for them. (That’s easier to do, too, when your staff isn’t cut by 60%, as happened in this school.)

      Buying metal detectors instead of new books sends a strong message to students: “We don’t believe in you. We don’t trust you. We think you’re more likely to be a criminal than a mathematician. So here are our priorities.”

  3. January 25, 2011 3:46 pm

    If what the person really meant was, “My book is falling apart and missing numerous pages,” then you’re quite right. But just at face value, the fact that a math book was copyrighted in 1984 doesn’t necessarily tell me anything — the book could have been printed later and might still be in perfectly good shape, and the person could (for all I know) have been under the severe misunderstanding that calculus somehow got out of date since then.

    • Frederika permalink
      January 25, 2011 6:59 pm

      Stuart: Give it up. You are missing the point entirely. We are not debating whether an older textbook is of value. You are trolling the wrong waters by appearing to be so literal. Distracting!

  4. January 26, 2011 3:56 am

    It seems to me that the Parent Trigger, used in December at the McKinley Elementary School in the Compton Unified School District, CA, would be a great tool to have available to parents here as well. I wonder how likely it is that NY will be the second state to add this to state law? We covered this groundbreaking act in our blog, Rethinking Education. You can read the post here:

    • January 28, 2011 10:28 pm

      I agree that parents should have more say in their children’s schools, but I do not support the Parent Trigger. Giving parents the “power” to employ the same restrictive, fake reform strategies the government already plans to use on said schools is not empowerment, it’s a way to give these actions a false appearance of legitimacy. Instead of passing laws like this, we should be demanding that school leaders– from the school level on up to the federal Department of Education– actually listen to the parents and communities who have been demanding resource equity and fair assessment practices for generations.

  5. Frederika permalink
    January 28, 2011 8:14 pm

    Oh, yeah. That is just what we all need.

  6. January 30, 2011 4:30 am

    actually, moodle or any system like it is an effecient and economic answer to text book problems. at less than $200 these devices offer access to texts, resources, assignments, networking and grades, which teachers are able to document as they check &
    annotate assignments on-line offering viable accountability for students’ scholarship and teachers’ practice. it is not used, i suspect, because it interfers with business, which influences many purchases, programming and other choices districts make for us. students’ needs and teacher opinions are not considered.
    your comments revive my concerns about fourth ammendmant rights, an issue erupting around a school in my hood where an unfortunate shooting incident is being blamed on a lapse in complaince with policy about “random” metal detectors. as usual the policy is being enforced after tragic circumstances and our educrats are denying, deflecting and dismissing culpability.
    none of the hs campuses can implement the practice with over 3000 kids on campuses built for 2000. of course they are saying 2200 or 2400, but the day after the shooting kids lined up, snaked around the buildings as they waited–the tardy bell rang before 100s were inside.
    and schools with good AYP in affluent hoods do not have metal detectors. or fences. or campus cops feeding them into juvenile detention as truants (costs ADA$ so tough consequence), or illegal/insane class size or
    overcrowded campuses–
    man, i live in one of the most diverse and progressive cities in the world, but racism, inequality, discrimination and futile feudilism (sp?) is alive in LA –in school of ALL places


  1. Tweets that mention “My calculus book is copyright 1984…but we DID get new metal detectors this year.”” « Failing Schools --
  2. Parents: before you pull the Trigger… :: Sabrina Stevens Shupe

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