2010-09-17 / Editorial/Opinion

DOE Cares For Data, Not Kids

At the same time the city’s Department of Education is spending millions on testing and tracking the data that comes from those tests, it is ignoring the legitimate needs of students and parents. Witness the latest contretemps, one that need never have happened if the DOE valued kids over administration and data. For the past 40 years, students accepted to magnet programs were provided with yellow school bus service. In addition, service was provided to those students in both public and parochial schools where no public transportation exists. The DOE ended that practice for seventh and eighth graders this academic year. If you want to see what that means in practical terms, you would only have had to look at Beach Channel Drive outside of the Scholars’ Academy on Wednesday, the first day of school. More than 100 cars crowded the boulevard, double and triple-parked, impeding traffic as parents sought out their children exiting the school. Many of them were from the mainland part of District 27 — Howard Beach, Ozone Park, Hamilton Beach. The parents had been promised busing to the magnet school. Now, there was none and they had to drive to Rockaway (paying the toll twice) to pick their kids up from school. Many of the cars were from Breezy Point, where there is no public transportation for the kids to take. Even where public transportation exists, officials point out; the nearest bus stop is at Beach 102 Street and Rockaway Beach Boulevard. From there the students must cross the boulevard and then the freeway. There are no sidewalks in that area. It has become a very dangerous situation. The DOE seems not to care. The Department of Transportation seems not to care. Only the parents and the school’s principal, Brian O’Connell, seem to care, and they have not been able to get any response either from the DOE or the DOT. City Councilman Eric Ulrich has gone to court to get the DOE to change its collective mind and provide busing for the magnet school students. The money is available in other programs, programs that do not address the needs of students. If only the DOE cared for kids, it would be done.

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