A Program to Turn Around Troubled Students
Tuesday, November 15, 2011 - 08:20 AM
Monday's news was dominated by the actions of the state's Board of Regents, whose members dealt with cheating, help for would-be college students who are illegal immigrants and expensive mandates for schools.
Looking at schools from the classroom level, Anna M. Phillips of SchoolBook has a report in The Times about an interesting program that focuses on troubled children.
The nonprofit program, Turnaround for Children, is supported by foundations. Originally called the Children's Mental Health Alliance, the organization was founded in 1994, has been working in New York City schools since 2002, and now operates in 20 city schools and three in Washington.
It invests $250,000 in each school, with the schools paying for social workers, to target services and support to the children who, the article says, "could shatter a classroom’s composure or a school windowpane in a second."
Turnaround's founder and president, Pamela Cantor, says the program is based on classroom experiences: “A teacher who works in a community like this and thinks that these children can leave their issues at the door and come in and perform is dreaming.”
And so, as Ms. Phillips writes:
In focusing on students’ psychological and emotional well-being, in addition to academics, Turnaround occupies a middle ground between the educators and politicians who believe schools should be more like community centers, and the education-reform movement, with its no-excuses mantra.
Turnaround uses a "whole-child model."
Turnaround’s approach is based on the premise that teaching can be made easier if schools confront the 5 percent of students who behave the worst. When they do not, Dr. Cantor said, those 5 percent often pull down the next 10 percent to 15 percent of troublesome students in an academic riptide.
Some of the schools that are using Turnaround include the Urban Assembly School for Wildlife Conservation in the Bronx; Junior High School 118 William W. Niles in the Bronx; two new elementary schools in the Bronx, Public School 536 and Public School 531 Archer Elementary; and John Adams High School.
Achievement gaps persist in the schools where Turnaround is operating, but the program is starting to put more emphasis on academics.
James Shelton, the federal Education Department’s assistant deputy secretary for innovation and improvement, said programs like Turnaround were often overlooked as “so much kumbaya.”
“The research for what Pam is doing is significant and growing,” he said, “and for us to ignore that is not only at our peril, it’s just stupid.”
In other news, Gotham Schools reports that Henry Rubio, the principal of A. Philip Randolph Campus High School in Manhattan, stepped down on Monday to take a job with the Council of School Supervisors and Administrators, where he is a vice president.
Mr. Rubio was under investigation for allegations that the school had passed students who had failed, to improve the school's record. Chiara Coletti, a spokeswoman for the principals' union, said the investigation concluded on Thursday, with no evidence of any wrongdoing on Mr. Rubio's part.
Gotham Schools' Rise and Shine post has a more complete roundup of what is in the news.
Here is what is going on around the city on Tuesday:
Parent-teacher conferences are held Tuesday afternoon and evening for elementary school students. On Wednesday, middle school parents get the chance to sit down with their child's teachers.