I know some of the things I write about the school I teach in make it sound like the worst place in the world to work and to go to school. But, truth be told, it is anything but that. We have a great bunch of kids, fantastic teachers and, except for two, good administrators. The kids who come to Francis Lewis High School get the best education available to any New York City public school student. In fact, the size and the diversity of my school gives or students an education that is better than that of most private school students. Our students thrive in an atmosphere that challenges the bright and supports the ones that need help the most.
Anyone walking in will see students who are engaged in learning and happy to be where they are. Last year, my college class conducted a survey on the effects of overcrowding on education at the school. The results shocked us all. While there were some issues being in a school our size, they overwhelmingly found the rewards far exceeded the problems. Not one regretted their decision to come here.
So now you are probably wondering why I am all of a sudden writing a post bragging about my school? Well, today we were told that our "A" school is now a "B" school. Although all our statistics have gone up, by some magical formula our grade has gone down. I could say we are still the school we were a year ago, but I don't think that would be true. We have gotten better.
Now, bear with me for the rest of this post. I am sure I will be making a lot of enemies now, but I don't care. (And, please don't think I am sucking up. I have nothing to gain by writing this post.)
Two years ago, our old Principal retired and in his place we got a young, bright, enthusiastic new one. Our new principal thinks with his head and his heart and has made quite a few changes that have improved the quality of our school for students as well as teachers. I don't agree with or even like everything he has done but I do believe every change was only made after careful thought about the outcome and possible consequences. Before he took command, computers for teacher use were almost non existent in the building. Now, they are everywhere. There is now a teacher's work room. Although no one wants to attend a faculty conference, at least now they are engaging, worthwhile topics are discussed and they end before or at the bell. The door to his office is always open to staff and students and no one has to worry about retribution for speaking openly. He supports extra curricular activities and is never too busy to show up in the evening or on the weekends. The kids know the person in charge has their best interests at heart.
Francis Lewis High School offers a wide range of courses, from Advanced Placement and college courses all the way down to remedial math and English. We have electives in many subjects, and lots of extra curricular activities. It would be hard to find a school that offers as much as this one does. The school is safe. Incidents are at a minimum.
The school's rating has no consequence for me. I'm old and I will be long gone before the DOE decides to turn our building into mini schools or give it over to a charter school. But, I've been at this school for 25 years and to see some arbitrary, meaningless number bring it down gets me quite upset. Let's face it, no New York City school is really an A school. Our classes are too big, our facilities are too crowded and most of our buildings are just too old. But, I'll take the comparison of Francis Lewis to any school in the city and, if it is done fairly, I know we will come out on top.
Bloomberg, do us all a favor and stuff the A's and B's and all the other ratings in the first trash can you find.