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Thompson: Annenberg Study Highlights Mid-Year Assignment Problems

US_Navy_110327-N-MU720-031_Volunteers_erve_food_to_children_at_the_Biko-en_Children's_Care_HouseWas anyone surprised by the Annenberg Institute's finding, in Over the Counter, Under the Radar, that late enrolling students in New York City are disproportionately enrolled in high schools slated for closure?

Its authors, Toi Sin Arvidsson, Norm Fruchter, and Christina Mokhtar, explain that NYC's student assignment policies have long been criticized for concentrating high-needs students in struggling high schools.

"Over the Counter" (OTC) kids represent about 17% of high school students and they are more likely to be new immigrants, special needs students, poor, transient, homeless, over-age, or have histories of behavioral problems. So, it is no shock that high schools that are on the chopping block would find themselves with up to 37% of their student population being late enrollees.

Shouldn't we be shocked by their findings?  Even the term "over the counter" students is disturbing.

Isn't this a "blink!" moment where we ask how we got into this shameful position?

As the Annenberg study explains, up until the 1990s, the NYC schools were dismissive of the feelings of hundreds of OTC students.  After choice increased the numbers of these vulnerable kids into the thousands, they were disproportionately placed in schools known as "dumping grounds."

But, wasn't the purpose of school reform to help children, not further disadvantage the most vulnerable of them? If the goal is helping children, not defeating adult enemies, shouldn't it have been obvious that high-needs kids should be placed in the schools that can best educate them?  

If NYC reformers have not completely lost their moral compass, they will embrace the Annenberg's conclusions and impose a moratorium on putting more struggling children in struggling high schools. Common decency says that all other high schools should be assigned between 12% and 20%  of "OTC" kids. It also says we should find a less dehumanizing term for those students.  And, then we all should ask how we got into this disgusting situation.-JT(@drjohnthompson) Image via.   


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The Annenberg study shocked me as well. Here is my own post on the subject, http://janresseger.wordpress.com/2013/10/14/excluding-over-the-counter-children-to-protect-elite-high-schools/. It concludes with the prophetic words of the Rev. Jesse Jackson about our school reform that disadvantages the most vulnerable children: "There are those who would make the case for a race to the top for those who can run. Instead 'lift from the bottom' is the moral imperative because it includes everybody."

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