Sunday, January 31, 2010

This is Why We Need Our Own Newspaper



I just read an article on the Daily News' website called "State Education Department eyes closure of Newtown High School".  It can be accessed at this link.

http://www.nydailynews.com/ny_local/queens/2010/01/29/2010-01-29_schools_risk_closure_state_eying_newtown_high__other_sites_with_poor_performance.html

This article leaves many questions unanswered.  It was written by Clare Trapasso, Daily News Writer, so I will direct my questions to her.

Dear Clare,

You say “More Queens high schools are facing the axe—this time, wielded by the state.”

Question:  What do you mean by “this time, wielded by the state”?  Who wielded the axe before, and why the difference? 

You say Newtown High School in Elmhurst is one of 10 Queens high schools the state Education Department has deemed “persistently lowest achieving.”

Q:  What do you mean by “persistently low achieving”? 

You say students, alumni, community members, and Hiram Monserrate vowed to fight closure of Newtown High School.

Q: Were there any teachers there, or don’t they count?

The Principal of Newtown HS says that many of the students come from other countries and don’t speak English making it hard for them to pass standardized tests.

Q:  How exactly will replacing the principal and half the staff change this?  Will the staff to be replaced include older, more experienced teachers with higher salaries, or younger, less experienced teachers with lower salaries?

Q:  How exactly will rewarding staff who boost student achievement change this?   Will the teachers who score the exams be the same teachers who receive the salary boost?  Sounds like conflict of interest to me.  How will cheating be prevented?

Q:  How exactly will converting Newtown to a charter school change this?  Will the charter school be able to deny admission to students with low test scores forcing them to travel outside their neighborhoods to other high schools whose scores will be affected by the influx of  children who can’t speak English?  Will the charter school have the same budget as Newtown?

Q:  How exactly will shutting Newtown down change this?  What will happen to the building?  What will happen to the money in Newtown’s budget?  Where will the neighborhood children go to school?

I'm not a journalist, Clare, but it seems to me that you have avoided asking the hard questions journalists should be trained to ask.

Do the editors of the Daily News encourage their journalists to ask challenging questions?

We need newspapers with editors and journalists that challenge state and city officials with hard questions.  Those that don't are incompetent and should be closed down.

Sincerely, Untamed Teacher

1 comment:

Clare said...

Hi,

I read your post and would be happy to answer any of your questions regarding my story. Feel free to give me a call at (718) 793-3328.

I look forward to hearing from you.

Sincerely,

Clare Trapasso