“They call them ‘super seniors,’ but it’s nothing to be proud of.
They are overage high-school students who lack the required credits needed to earn a diploma, so they stay on — and on.
At Murry Bergtraum HS for Business Careers downtown, former Principal Andrea Lewis said she joined the then-2,300-student school in September 2010 and found ‘at least 995 students’ between age 18 and 21.
Some, she told probers, were enrolled for five or six years or had earned just half a credit to five credits — 44 are needed to graduate….
…Whether the lagging students ever showed up for classes, or just remained phantoms on the school registers — allowing the school to collect enrollment funding — is unclear.
‘None of your business,’ ex-Principal Lewis snapped when contacted at home last week.
Nor could officials account for the failing students — how many dropped out, transferred to an alternative school, or settled for a GED….”
Lottie Almonte is Murray Bergtraum High School’s new principal and she clearly has her work cut out for her. In June 2011, Murry Bergtraum’s graduation rate was 58%, with a dropout rate of 14% with only 18% of the school’s graduates prepared for college.
As for ex-principal, Andrea Lewis, her departure to Bergtraum may have been more political than wise, or maybe enough was just enough.
Lewis is one of eight “super principals” hired by the Bloomberg administration in 2010 to turn around troubled schools. The agreement was that Lewis would receive a yearly bonus of $25,000 per annum for at least three years. Lewis departed from Bergtraum with one year left on the clock.
In fairness to Lewis, she inherited the Bergtraum mess and the problems that principals often endure when dealing with the UFT (United Federation of Teachers).
POLITICS FOR THE GOOD OF THE COLLECTIVE, NOT THE STUDENT COLLECTIVE, THAT IS
“Lower Manhattan’s Murry Bergtraum HS used to be known as a high-performing school tailored to business majors. Now it’s seen more as a troubled school, which recently drew media attention after a Dec. 8 fight between two students escalated into what the press called a ‘riot.’
In the alleged student uprising that day, students jammed the halls following Principal Andrea Lewis’ ill-advised order to refuse bathroom passes as a security measure. The measure predictably backfired.
Chapter members attest that the school’s problems preceded Lewis’ arrival in September, but claim that she took a tough situation and made it worse….
…Teachers fault Lewis for the school’s security problems. They also question her abilities as an educator and supervisor, describing her as mercurial and punitive.
Lewis arrived at Bergtraum this fall after four years of butting heads with staff at Brooklyn’s ACORN Academy. …The staff says she brought her contentious ways with her. U-ratings have increased threefold — the product of what Chapter Leader John Elfrank-Dana called ‘drive-by gotcha visits’ or brief snapshot observations, which then end up in teachers’ personnel files. When Elfrank-Dana objected that ‘it created a climate of fear,’ she responded curtly that ‘teachers have to be held accountable….
…At a recent professional development conference, Elfrank-Dana said, Lewis insulted staff when she said that ‘parents don’t have confidence in the teachers in this school, which is why they don’t want to send their children here’ — despite the fact that teachers got a 92 percent favorable rating this year from parents on the DOE’s Learning Environment Survey.….”
WHERE DID A ONCE PROMISING MURRY BERGTRAUM GO WRONG?
“…Observers say Bergtraum’s problems grew after the Department of Education began to phase out nearby Seward Park HS starting in 2003 as well as two other Manhattan high schools. Those actions alone temporarily swelled Bergtraum’s register by 800 students (today the school is back down to 2,400 students) and brought in a crop of poorly prepared young people with no necessary interest in its specialized curriculum. Students in 143 classrooms at Bergtraum started the second semester a year ago in oversized classes, the most of any school in the city….”
While not implying that Lewis failed or that the UFT bullied her into leaving Bergtraum, one still cannot help but wonder how many school principals have been run out of New York City public schools because they hurt the feelings of teachers and the UFT by demanding accountability.
As witnessed by the graduation and dropout rates of Murry Bergtraum High School, which is just a drop in the bucket of the problems that plagues this educational institution, the children pay the price.
One can only hope that for the sake of the children, Bergtraum is turned around. Just do not be too quick to place your faith in the UFT or those teachers playing politics.
As for the students, they need to wake up, social justice is not all it is hyped up to be. Besides, I get the sneaky suspicion that these kids are propaganda tools for teachers and the UFT.
Acknowledging that there are two sides to every story, in this case, maybe three, I suspect that there is still much to be said.