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Inside a School Where Half the Students Don’t Last the School Year

Inside a School Where Half of Students Don’t Last the School Year

The New York Times took a look at Public School 188, on the Lower East Side of Manhattan, a school unique in that most of the student population is homeless and as a result student enrollment can drop to less than half of its students by the end of the school year.

"The number of homeless people in the city has never been larger, and to spend months in the classrooms of P.S. 188 is to see that this crisis does not play out just in the grown-up world of streets and shelters. It is lived in lunchrooms and libraries, in science labs and math classes, or while perched at a tiny desk trying to learn to read,” the Times says.

In such a school, the role of the teacher and the administrator is far more than an individual with the purpose of educating. Instead, these individuals shift into roles that ultimately help students learn the very basics of survival.

Whereas many schools think of expanding resources as investing in the latest edtech, P.S. 188 is seeking funding for washers and dryers available to students who are unable to come to school in clean clothes.

In the nation’s largest school district, P.S. 188 isn’t even unique, the Times says.

46 schools in the district have a student population comprised of at least one-third of homeless students.

The article reveals the daily struggles that educators working in these schools face.

"Should they review material, and then review it again, so that the students who are in and out of their classrooms are not left too far behind? Or should they plow ahead so that the rest of the class can keep learning new things, and steal moments when they can to give the others a little extra help?”

The school staff told the Times that about 80 percent of the school’s students would benefit from counseling services--services that funding simply can’t cover.

But while the school’s test scores are disappointing and routinely low, success is defined by the school as reaching both students and their families that are in need of help.

"On annual school surveys, families and teachers give the school and its principal very high ratings. Teachers say they trust the principal and one another. Students say they feel safe and respected, and that they know what their teachers want them to learn. At the Island School, there are outbursts and fights, but the hallways usually feel calm. Children walk from class to class in neat rows, or a rough approximation of them.”

In other words, standardized test scores cannot come close to defining the progress P.S. 188 staff make day after day, year after year.

Read the full story.

Nicole Gorman, Education World Contributor

6/6/2016

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