Public Advocate Bill de Blasio today sent a letter urging Chancellor Dennis Walcott to conduct a thorough study of DOE summer programs, and ensure summer school students are not being short-changed by a lack of educational opportunity or relaxed academic standards. The Public Advocate’s letter follows media reports of scarce resources and low academic rigor at two summer school programs in the Bronx.
“Students shouldn’t get a lower-quality education just because they take classes in the summer,” said Public Advocate Bill de Blasio. “Standards are standards, and the Department of Education needs to make sure our classrooms are meeting them year-round.”
Read Public Advocate de Blasio’s full letter below:
July 23, 2012
Dennis M. Walcott, Chancellor
New York City Department of Education
52 Chambers Street, Room 405
New York, New York 10007
Dear Chancellor Walcott:
I write to inquire about press reports that several schools in the Bronx are not offering their students a quality education during summer school. According to these reports, the Women’s Academy for Excellence and Bronx Health Sciences High School are offering credits to summer school students while requiring only minimal work and limited teacher interaction that fall below required standards. The Women’s Academy for Excellence is offering an English class over the summer, but does not provide a teacher, instead utilizing a community associate to monitor the classroom while students use an educational computer program for instruction. At Bronx Health Sciences High School, students have been able to collect half a school year’s worth of credits in just ten days, which means they were only given 7.5 hours of class time per course. Summer school and credit recovery programs are designed to assist students who have fallen behind during the traditional school year, yet it appears that these schools are essentially giving out credits to students with limited learning opportunities. The lack of educational opportunities in these summer school programs undermines our obligation to provide high-quality educational opportunities to our public school students.
I fear that this issue is more widespread than these two schools in the Bronx and that other students are not meeting proficiency levels in summer school and credit recovery programs. While I understand the Department of Education (“DOE”) made changes to the credit recovery program earlier this year, there are still concerns that students are not mastering subjects in their summer school programs. To that end, I have a few questions regarding DOE monitoring of summer school and credit recovery programs. I specifically request the following information:
- How does the DOE currently monitor the rigor and effectiveness of online courses?
- How many credits are students permitted to receive during a summer school program?
- What are the certification requirements for a teacher in a summer school program?
- How many students were eligible for credit recovery programs this summer, and how many students actually enrolled?
- How many high school students who graduated in 2012 utilized credit recovery programs?
This issue is of great concern to me and many parents in New York City’s public school system. When our students attend summer school or credit recovery programs, they should be provided with adequate educational resources and should be expected to meet standard levels of rigor and proficiency. Thank you for your time and attention on this matter.
Bill de Blasio
Public Advocate for the City of New York