Small tubes of powdered milk and mushroom spores sped into earth's orbit on Thursday as part of science experiments conducted by two groups of New York City students.
The city’s high school newspapers tackled some big topics this fall. From failed Regents grading to the city’s evaluation system, student reporters didn’t shy away from uncovering systematic failures that left them wondering if the adults were alright.
"This Trenton Life," a play created by high school students and the Passage Theatre Company, was performed this summer in in a revitalized vacant lot in Trenton. A mini-documentary about the experience now appears on the web site, State of the Arts. Mary Mann is with New Jersey News Commons at Montclair State University. She speaks with New Jersey Public Radio's David Furst about the collaboration.
A horrific scene unfolded in Maspeth, Queens on Thursday morning when a car slammed into a group of children near their school, I.S. 73. As the Daily News reported, people raced to help, including a group of men who lifted the car off of two students pinned underneath.
Today is the first day of school in Philadelphia, which is facing some of the nation's worst educational budget cuts. Karen Thomas is principal of Cook-Wissahickon Elementary, which has lost four full-time staff members. Robin Dominick is the parent of two children at Powell Elementary, which will see its student body increase by nearly 20 percent. Charles Zogby, Budget Secretary for Pennsylvania Gov.Tom Corbett, weighs in on what the government is doing amidst the budgetary crisis.
Summer break is no longer two months of uninterrupted rest and relaxation. Each year, more and more kids spend their summer breaks in specialized camps that teach more than how to make a campfire.
Neuroscientists are trying to get New York City kids excited about the brain. Columbia University faculty members and students hosted a Community Brain Expo on Wednesday in Washington Heights, where parents, high schoolers, and elementary school students tried experiments and watched demonstrations aimed at teaching a younger audience about neuroscience.
Starting this month, some kids in San Francisco can ride the bus for free. The new program, called Free Muni for Youth, aims to make life a little easier for the city’s low- and moderate-income families. The city estimates that 40,000 young people qualify for the program.
"It started in a small room, just a couple pieces of pizza and people are like, we should make free Muni for young people,” said Nick Persky. He’s a 17 year-old junior at Lick-Wilmerding High School and the vice chair of the San Francisco Youth Commission, a group of 17 young people who advise the mayor on youth issues. Persky wasn’t around when the idea for free Muni for young people first came about–he said it dates back about a decade–but he’s proud see it put into action.
“We thought it was never possible, but as evidenced by today, it is something that is possible,” he said. “It’s pretty special to be a person in high school, to be a person who is unable to vote, to be able to see what young people can do to bring policy change in our local government.”
Part of the reason kids need a free ride is that years of budget cuts have all but eliminated yellow bus service in San Francisco. For a lot of students, that means Muni is the only way for them to get to school. Paul Monge-Rodriguez, a legislative aide for the San Francisco Youth Commission, said people shouldn’t think of it as a handout.
“It’s almost like a reallocation, still investing in the same types of services, but just through a different source of funding,” he explained.
The San Francisco Municipal Transportation Agency board of directors approved a pilot program almost a year ago, but the plan was contingent upon a $4 million grant from the Metropolitan Transportation Commission, the regional transit board. In July, the MTC denied the grant. But in the fall, a new grant surfaced and SFMTA director Ed Reiskin recommended that $1.6 million of it be used to fund a 16-month trial.
Last week, the diverse coalition that made Free Muni for Youth a reality held a press conference to celebrate its official launch. Everyone involved, from young people, to city Supervisor David Campos, to Reiskin, was quick to praise the others for their continued cooperation.
Reiskin told the students, “You guys are the ones that made this happen,” noting that this was the best grassroots initiative he had ever seen.
Still, Reiskin said funding the program was a difficult decision, because Muni’s infrastructure has a lot of existing problems and it needs all the money it can get. But ultimately, he sided with the young people of the city.
“The system has a lot of needs,” he said. “But the community has needs too.”
It was an emotional day for many of the people involved. Claudia Gonzalez, a mother of two from Potrero Hill, spoke through an interpreter about her experience.
“It was a very stressful process,” she said. “I remember going to these meetings and I felt very betrayed by the MTA board because we would go in front of them and tell them about how difficult it was for us, and they would look away and they wouldn’t answer us, they wouldn’t give us a straight answer, and that was a very, very arduous process for us.”
Gonzalez said she owes a big thanks to POWER, an advocacy group that played an important role in organizing the campaign for Free Youth for Muni. Now, her two kids (age 11 and 13), will get a free ride to school.
Throughout the day, though, everyone agreed the majority of the praise should go to the youth who organized and fought on their own behalf for the right to free public transportation. At the press conference, SF Unified School District Superintendent Richard A. Carranza summed up a popular sentiment about the students’ instrumental role.
“The grown ups are in awe of how well organized and articulate our youth are,” he said to a cheering crowd of students and onlookers. Looking out at students, he announced, “I’ll see you on Muni!”
(Stephen Nessen - New York, SchoolBook) Since January, Tommy and Dina Nero have been a presence at the picket lines nearly every day. A bus driver and matron, as well as husband and wife, the couple has been dedicated to their union’s position in the ongoing school bus strike but, as the dispute drags into it second month, they also are facing the real-life challenges of limited pay and not working at a job they love.
“Those children are our children, as far as I’m concerned,” Tommy Nero said. “The children on my bus now, I’ve known them for the last three and-a-half years. So, the parents know us. It’s like a family, an extended family.”
The school bus strike has disrupted more than 5,000 of the 7,700 routes in the five boroughs. The last time this happened, in 1979, the strike lasted 13 weeks. And with all parties firmly entrenched in their positions, this one doesn’t have an end in sight. For the members of 1181 Amalgamated Transit Union, this means reduced wages and the loss of health care benefits.
And every week on strike has heightened the Neros’ anxieties.
There are the impending bills to pay: the mortgage on their Jackson Heights apartment, building fees, car bills, and college tuition for their 24-year-old son who has one more semester left at John Jay College. Also, Tommy needs a steady supply of inhalers for his asthma, a steep cost without health care.
Dina said she hit her head while doing laundry recently and it caused a big concern.
“I was like please, please don’t let me be bleeding, because I can’t afford to get stitches right now. It’s scary, because everything you do, you’re like ‘Oh I can’t get hurt,’ and it’s so on your mind,” she said.
During a recent visit to their home, Tommy wore his silver hair slicked back. Under his black driver’s jacket he sported a grey sweatshirt emblazoned with “Alaska,” a memento from better times.
“Alaska was our trip of a lifetime. It was our retirement money. We always wanted to go there. Now, from here on end, we don’t know what we’re doing. All our vacations will be on the fire escape,” Tommy said.
Tommy’s grandfather was a union man, working in steel mills in Harlem. Several of his relatives also are school bus drivers and escorts who are on strike now. He said he’s not only concerned about his job, but about the future of unions in the city.
The union says the strike is about ensuring employee protections are put in all new city contracts, protections that would ensure that companies hire union drivers and matrons, and assign routes based on seniority. The city says it’s illegal to keep the protections in the contract.
The strike has been going on since January 16.
Listen to the story here.
Join Radio Rookies and Youth Radio today from 1 p.m. to 2 p.m. EST for a Live Chat about gun control and school safety with students from classrooms around the country.
Teachers, principals, guidance counselors, administrators and other educators: how have you been dealing with talking about the Newtown shooting with students? What are you telling kids of different ages? How are your students handling it, and how have you been handling it? Call in to 212-433-9692 or post below.
Black and Latino students made up more than 96 percent of the arrests by NYPD School Safety officers during the 2011-2012 school year, according to recent data released by the NYPD. But the New York Civil Liberties Union believes the numbers betray a "heavy-handed" approach to discipline, particularly in minority neighborhoods.
The police made 882 arrests in New York City public schools last year, according to an analysis of police data by the New York Civil Liberties Union.
Andrew Hacker, professor of political science at Queens College New York, recently proclaimed on The Takeaway that the age old belief that "algebra and mathematics generally sharpens our mind…[is] total fiction." Many of our listeners disagreed.