2004-07-08 / Front Page

Pol Challenges Mayor To Fix Summer School Dilemma

Senator Carl KrugerSenator Carl Kruger

Budget cuts may be keeping thousands of at-risk school students out of summer school this year, but State Senator Carl Kruger has an answer — let the mayor fix the problem.

"I challenge Mayor Bloomberg to appoint me schools chancellor for one day, and let’s see if I can find the money to allow all students who need it to attend summer school," he said.

A new Department of Education edict that allows only students who won’t graduate or be promoted to at-tend summer school has resulted in a closed-door policy for thousands of at-risk students, Kruger said.

Summer school officially opened in high schools July 1.

This year the Department of Edu-cation sliced high schools’ summer school budget from $24 million to $17 million, or about 30 percent, leaving thousands of struggling students without the help they need.

"In the past, any high school student who failed a course could enroll in summer school regardless of the number of classes they failed. But the new policy limits summer school to those students who need to meet graduation or promotion requirements, mean-ing that seniors and students who fail one class are given priority," the legislator said.

As a result, non-senior students who fail multiple classes have been barred from attending summer school, Kruger said. To make matters worse, "these students are encouraged instead to go to private summer schools - at their own expense," he said.

Sen. Kruger said he learned about this problem when parents started com-plaining that their children wanted to attend summer school - but were re-fused.

In one case, a sophomore student who flunked two history and one science class was told he couldn’t attend summer school because "he failed more than two courses," said Sen. Kruger. The Lawmaker’s office interceded and the DOE regional office, Region 6, relented and said he could take the classes locally at Madison H.S. in Brooklyn. Then Region 6 changed its mind again and said that, since the teen was not a senior, he could only take one course at Madision.

"They said he could take the other two classes, all right - but only at Wash-ington Irving H.S. in Manhattan, a long subway ride from his home, and only in the evening," said Sen. Kruger.

In another instance, a student at Edward R. Murrow H.S. was bumped out of a global history summer school class due to overcrowding and was urged to attend private summer school at St. Edmund’s H.S., a parochial school, instead.

There is no appeals process for students denied entrance to summer school.

"On its own website, the DOE des-cribes summer school as ‘a second chance to make the mark," said Kruger. "In reality, summer school ignores those students who are truly struggling and want to improve themselves until they’re at the peril of being left back or not graduating," he said.

"Summer school has become the DOE’s quick fix for boosting graduation and promotion rates. The unfortunate consequence is that many students who are eager to succeed are being hung out to dry," Kruger said.

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