Regina Simoes, a seventh grade teacher at Isaac E. Young Middle School, says teachers aren’t the problem at Isaac Young and then singled out parents for criticism, admonishing them to play a more active role in their children’s education. She went on to say that Isaac is hardly unique in having problems, claiming there are problems at both North End and South Schools that are not disclosed to parents or the public. That officials at both schools hush up incidents is hardly comforting news for New Rochelle residents.
Simoes, responding to recent criticism of the District, defended teachers and shifted responsibility to parents. “You make it what you make it”, she said. She had a blunt message for parents who would complain. “Your the one who needs to advocate for your child”, Simoes said, “You make the most of your child’s education”.
Simoes, along with over 100 other district employees, was recently sent an email by teacher’s union chief Martin Daly where Daly attempted to deflect well-substantiated claims against school district administrators by confusing criticism of administrators with criticism of teachers.
Addressing questions about the recent rise in test scores, Simoes attributed the improved performance to the implementation of “Saturday Academies” and the “Algebra Institute” which Ms. Simoes ran. At the same time, she acknowledged that “scores and testing not as high as it should be”.
Oddly, such statements contradict the very claims by Dr. Korostoff, Mr. Bongo and Mr. Gulland, which were heavily criticized on this blog. Last Tuesday, Mr. Gulland showed school board members a chart of data indicating that performance for standardized tests in math have skyrocketed over the past two years. Black and hispanic students have shown an increase of roughly 50% in just two years and, if the numbers are to be believed, are now at or very near parity with white students. On the recent standardized math test, 71% of black students scored a 3 or 4 up from 46% just two years ago, hispanic students went from 52% to 75% while students showed only modest improvement, going from 71% to 77%.
A passionate teacher, Ms. Simoe takes any criticism of the school district personally which is probably not the most constructive attitude for those wishing to bring about real change in New Rochelle. There may be many reasons why children perform better in North End schools over South End schools having nothing to do with the teachers. Ms. Simos cites one, the preponderance of ESL students at Isaac Young; Albert Leonard does not have an ESL program so their ESL students are sent to Isaac Young.
There is currently no evidence that teachers are more or less caring, hard-working or concerned at any particular school in the District. There is, however, clear evidence that administrators in the school district – not teachers – have sought to cover up problems, mislead the public and enforce a code of omerta or silence among district personnel and even parents who feel aggrieved.
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