Streams

A Bronx High School Teacher Tells All

Wednesday, January 11, 2012 - 08:15 AM

You will never look at Pop-Tarts the same again after reading the account of a Bronx high school teacher in New York magazine's Workplace Confidential feature this week.

The teacher, who remains anonymous, writes about what it's like in his high school, which he says has 17 white students among its 3,000 students.

Everyone cheats, he says.

I call it the Mississippi River of cheating: A kid in the front-right corner of the classroom will have a wildly wrong answer to a test, and a kid in the back-right corner of the room will have the same exact wrong answer. With teachers, the cheating is more of a massaging of the numbers on the ­Regents.

Students call each other out on their place of origin.

And the racism among students is horrible. Upstate, a kid would be expelled for saying the kinds of stuff my kids say.

And students have figured out interesting ways to make money.

The kids sell Pop-Tarts in school like they’re drug dealers. This one kid would go to Costco and buy in bulk and then sell Pop-Tarts in the morning. He actually made enough money selling Pop-Tarts to buy a car. So one day he got busted by security with a huge bag full of Pop-Tarts, and they asked him, “What is this?” He said: “They’re my snack.” And they were like, “No, they aren’t.” So he sat down and ate them all. He graduated and went back to Africa.

What do other high school teachers (and students) think of this -- and what's it like in other high schools? SchoolBook is open to your reactions and accounts. Warning, though: we do not publish anonymously.

The Daily News reports that a teacher -- soon to be an ex-teacher -- is in legal hot water for pretending to be busy on legal matters.

Authorities say that Mona Lisa Tello, 61, who will retire from the High School of Graphic Communication Arts on West 49th Street in Manhattan at the end of this week, has been charged with faking jury duty for two weeks.

How did officials find out? The letter she submitted to excuse 15 absences between September 2010 and May 2011 was full of misspellings, The Daily News says.

Tello spelled “trial” as “trail,” wrote “sited” instead of “cited,” and “manger” instead of “manager,” officials revealed Tuesday.

Also, Tello allegedly put the wrong address on the letter and included fake bar codes and bogus fax and telephone numbers, they said.

Ms. Tello has agreed to reimburse the city the $3,374.88 in salary she was paid while faking jury duty, The News says, and now faces three counts of forgery.

The school, by the way, received an F on its latest progress report and is on the city's list of struggling schools.

And Gotham Schools covered efforts Tuesday afternoon by students at Legacy School for Integrated Studies to save their school from being closed.

About two dozen students, parents and administrators spread out across the cafeteria of the Union Square high school to barrage officials with phone calls protesting the city’s plan to close the school.

A list of of 75 targets ranged from Regents Chancellor Merryl Tisch to midlevel officials at the city Department of Education. Some people received as many as 20 calls, according to students who organized the event, which they called “Occupy Their Ears.”

The students say that the new principal, Joan Mosely, is making a difference and that the school should be given more time to turn around.

Gotham Schools' Rise and Shine morning post has more about what is in the news on this Wednesday morning.

There is a lot going on around town on Wednesday.

Chancellor Dennis M. Walcott will attend a District 21 town hall meeting at 6 p.m. at Public School 216, 350 Avenue X, Brooklyn.

The Fund for Public Schools will hold its annual Mentor Recognition event at the American Museum of the Natural History. With a new president, Julie Bator, appointed last year, the Fund for Public Schools will now focus on fund-raising for arts education and increasing the number of corporations that mentor students. Caroline Kennedy is speaking.

The launch of a new statewide group that intends to work with state and district leaders to improve public schools will hold a conference call at 11 a.m. The organization, the New York Campaign for Achievement Now, or NYCAN, is one of four state affiliates of 50CAN, an organization that aims to build coalitions supporting reform leaders in every state, a news release says.

The executive director is Christina Grant, a former Teach for America official and deputy to Michael Duffy in the city Education Department's charter schools office. You can learn more at nycan.org.

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