by Rick Tannenbaum
Nyack Public Schools 2009 Regents test results indicate a significant achievement gap between the district’s white and minority students. On the Algebra Regent, 83% of white students scored well, while only 47% of African-Americans and 43% of Latinos scored well. In Global History, 87% of Caucasian students scored well compared to 61% of blacks and half of Hispanic students. The Chemistry scores were 79%, 48% and 50% for each group respectively.
The gap in pass rates can also be found in middle school testing from last year in Math and English Language Arts where white students achieved substantially higher scores than black and Latino students. Parents (including the writer) have been asking the district to do more for minority students to close the gap. Suggestions have included a re-dedication of resources toward students who are not meeting state expectations, a longer school day, a longer school year, and the retention of afternoon tutors to help underachieving students.
The Superintendent praised the hardworking teachers who volunteer extra time in the afternoons and the many paper awards the district has received for its efforts to close the gap between groups. But the numbers speak for themselves. There is an achievement gap in the Nyack schools that should not be minimized. And as the state toughens graduation requirements, we need to act before more minority students fall behind and fail to graduate.
At the Dec 15 meeting of the Nyack Board of Education, trustee Michael Lagana proposed issuing a series of multimillion dollar bonds over the next few years to replace tennis courts at the high school and add new artificial turf fields at the old high school.
I can’t help but think that students who fail to meet state expectations in Math and English Language Arts and fail to perform well on state Regents exams probably do not need a new Tennis Center or artificial turf fields. What they need is an administration dedicated to educating the students as its top priority. They need new thinking and new methodologies to insure that they receive the education we all pay for and that they entitled to receive.