196 in a League of Its Own

April 21, 2008 at 7:46 am 4 comments

This just sickens me—PS 196’s now-hysterical approach toward reining in its students so that it can, what, keep up its test scores? Ensure that it meets attendance requirements to receive money? What of the parent whose kid gets sick for a few days, the “struggles to keep pace” that child will experience just because s/he got sick? Do parents in Forest Hills really buy into these Fox News-like fear tactics? NYC’s public school system in general is feeling the push to meet certain criteria and benchmarks, but this nervy letter really ups the tightly wound ante.

April 10, 2008

Please be advised that due to the emphasis on instruction and assessment, our children must adhere to the classroom schedule every day. Therefore, they cannot miss instruction to watch their siblings in performances. An exception is made for graduation.

It is important for the continuity of instruction that the children not miss a period or two of literacy, mathematics or any other content area. Every lesson hinges on prior knowledge, which is taught in sequential order in all curriculum areas. When a child is pulled out in the middle of a lesson, he/she often struggles to keep pace when they return to class.

Thank you for your cooperation in this matter.

Very truly yours,

Mary Hughes / Principal


Entry filed under: education, Forest Hills, parenting, politics, Queens, Rant, timely topic.

Thoughts on the Eve of Pesach Guilt-Free (Almost) Bags

4 Comments Add your own

  • 1. janny226  |  April 21, 2008 at 11:53 am

    First of all I hope that “Principle” is your typo, not hers… 🙂

    Second, part of it is tone. My son is in the NEST program so even though we are zoned for 101 he attends PS186 in Bellerose; at the beginning of the year (kindergarten orientation) the principal was very emphatic about not pulling the kids out for things like family vacation, and she used the same rationale — that learning builds on prior lessons — but she also said it verbally, not in a written note.

    Recently we received a reminder via mail about the importance of getting the children to school on time for the early period (for those who have early period); I was freaking out at first thinking my son’s bus wasn’t arriving on time, but quickly realized it must be a form letter. Others did not realize that though, and asked the principal, who felt a little bad that she’d unnecessarily worried those of us who are conscientious. The 186 principal comes across as much more a taskmaster than a concerned administrator.

  • 2. karbeth  |  April 21, 2008 at 12:00 pm

    Fixed! Yikes–what a screw-up that was. That’s what I get for 4 cups of wine last night.

    Agree that it’s tone. I thought about this letter some, before posting. Had it been in the name of chaos control, I might have understood it. But to strike at the heart of parents’ fears is just plain mean. This wasn’t a form letter, as far as I know. I haven’t seen or heard of this kind of letter before this year.

    It’s another implied threat, along with the vacation-penalizing one that goes out in the beginning of the year.

    So, is this about genuine concern about learning, or panic about standardized test scores? What do people think?

  • 3. public school parent  |  April 21, 2008 at 4:43 pm

    One component of the School Report Card is the Attendance percentage. Since schools and principals these days are heavily scrutinized based on test scores, the School Report Card and the Progress Report, what’s a principal to do but work on getting every fraction of a point to improve the school’s rating?

    I’m not saying this is the sole aim of the principal of 196 — she probably has the best interest of the students in mind — but this is the reality of our public school system today.

  • 4. Josie Barh  |  November 3, 2008 at 7:03 pm

    I totally agree with the principal and it has much more to do with emphasis in learning and avoiding that the ” ill” child whose parents allow him/her to miss school because their ” hair hurts ” interrupts the flow of the learning by interrupting the others with questions on material they miss…. so there


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