Frederick Douglass Students Protest For Right To Decent Education
It wasn’t exactly Occupy Frederick Douglass Academy VI, but unlike Occupy Wall Street it got results. On a cold Friday morning last week, students from Frederick Douglass Academy VI rallied outside the Far Rockaway High School Educational Campus, finally getting action by the school and Department of Education regarding the lack of teachers for its graduating seniors.
Approximately 60 students protested outside the former Far Rockaway High School before classes on November 18 after more than two months of being without teachers in the subjects necessary for graduation.
The almost hour-long rally, which began at 7 a.m., led to a meeting between some of the protesters and school administrators to discuss the issue. An agreement to hire an additional English teacher for the seniors was reached, and according to reports the search began on Monday for someone to take the position on a long-term basis.
Prior to the protest, students explained to The Wave what drove them to finally demand their right to a proper education.
“We were told we were going to get a good education. Since September, when we came to school, we’ve been missing a good set of teachers,” said Davina Jagedo, a senior. “We’re missing special education teachers. We’re missing English teachers – 12th grade English and we’re missing health teachers.”
Shamia Heyliger, the senior class president, added, “We have some teachers, but we don’t have English. They can’t teach all of us because they have a maximum amount of classes they can teach. So that just leaves our classes with no teachers.”
Jagedo said that students and parents have attempted to contact the DOE and tried calling 311 with no success. They have also spoken with the principal, Linda Alfred, and attempted to contact their state assembly representatives.
“This is not the first year this [the lack of teachers] has happened,” said Jagedo. It’s happened last year and the year before and we see it’s not going to change so we’re making a change right now …. They don’t want to help us so we’re going to protest on their property.”
Currently the English teachers in the school only serve the 9th, 10th and 11th grades. Seniors are required to do their work online.
“They put us on a website called ‘I Learn,’ ” said Jagedo. “We don’t learn anything from ‘I Learn.’ We just sit in front of the computer and do unnecessary work, and we’re tired of it.”
According to a source at the Department of Education, the school has interviewed several candidates for the job. As of late Monday afternoon, no one has been found to take the position. The class students are referring to is computer based, therefore they will continue to do work on the computer. The DOE denies that the lack of teachers has been an ongoing problem.