The Failed Education Hezitorial
YONKERS, NY — February 7, 2021 — Not only has Covid-19 uncovered the financial ability of the residents of the City of Hills, it has stretched the disparity between the educational capacity afforded our student population along color, ethnic, and gender lines, and thereby exacerbated the ever widening gap due to bigotry, a lack of planning in purchasing technology, such as Chrome Books, to serve the students enrolled by the Yonkers Public School District. Covid-19 may be behind the outcome of one concern or another, but it is not the culprit behind failings, and ever diminishing test results over the last 50 years. English Language Arts has faltered despite the fact that immersion in English is a proven, successful standard adopted throughout the world for over a century but NOT in Yonkers. Similarly math scores continue to plunge ever lower.
Lest anyone rest their laurels on promulgated, intentioned, and deceptive, yet “feel good” graduation scores, were one to understand that every child, whether picking up a “grab and go” breakfast and lunch, or simply turns on their computer for 5 seconds, is counted present, and will graduate at the end of the year with a degree in homelessness, as apathy feels the verbal slap against one’s sensibilities.
As incredulous as it seems, no child in Yonkers is ever left behind, they graduate every year until they earn their high school degree ready to enter the realm of homelessness. That needs to stop. Lest anyone want to blame all teachers, the fault resides in the conduct and demeanor of the Yonkers Superintendent of Schools, the Yonkers Board of Education Trustees, the Mayor who has chosen the members of the Board of Trustees, and yes, some principals and teachers. Many have been browbeaten to get with the program or earn the disdain of the district.
Yet parents cannot be blamed for not knowing when they read test score figures that exude knowledge of subject matter that eclipses the capacity of many parents to decipher, not due to intellect, but due to a deficiency in the English language.
No matter how one describes the situation before us, the most pertinent issue, often dismissed, not because it is irrelevant, but because it may offend. It seems Yonkers Public Schools test scores have languished in ever greater degrees commensurate with the number of years that have been eclipsed; some 50 years in fact.
Society has promised it was all knowing and capable of teaching our children proficiently well so that they could succeed. The reality is that society has promoted this promise for so long, that parents and guardians have lost sight of reality, clinging onto promises that have not, and to this day do not bear fruit.
Society is at fault; then again, so are our parents/guardians who wanted to believe that America would do right by their children. America did not. Parents also shirked their responsibility, when they should have known better. Not because they would have learned the reality from sea to shining sea, but because every immigrant family, no matter their origin, language, financial circumstance believed that America would bequeath upon their children an opportunity to learn and excel. Our collective mistake is that we believed America knew better than we who arrived at these shores with hope in our hearts and minds. Our collective failing was that we dismissed our grandparents’ or parents’ yearning for a better life for their children in the old country only to be advised that America knew better. Believing America from abroad was one of the greatest impetus for people to enter the United States. Even though America began its effort with good intention, America would drop the ball, neither serving its citizens nor those seeking a better life for themselves and their children. We, the immigrant population fell hook line and sinker that they knew better than we. They were wrong, we were right. Even though we were right, we forgot what we once knew and our children suffer to this day for our forgetfulness to why we came to America, that is, employment opportunity and education of our children not available in the former homeland. Education is the elixir of success, no matter the endeavor. The all-knowing America of the 1950’s was not all knowing, even though they believed they were. While we can blame America, we must instead blame ourselves, because we forgot what our grandparents and parents expected America to offer our children, that is an education, so they would be able to earn a living in the new land. Our forgetting is not an excuse.
Forgetting became easier when the concept of welfare took hold to great fanfare. It was intentioned to assist the new immigrants, but instead divided families, creating single parent households, children fathered by different men. It was that benevolent construct that resides and presides over many former societal norms to be upended today. Remedy has yet to be found, for lack of interest in righting the wrong, and not knowing how to go about it. Instead, we have talking heads who appease our sensibilities by ethnic spokespeople espousing dribble that is “talk” devoid of solution; maintaining the debauched process forward, while our children become its victims.
Seventy years later the falsehoods are known by some but the majority are still kept in the dark. Reality is cleverly camouflaged by deceit of intent and outright lies. How else can one explain that picking up one’s breakfast and lunch “grab bag” is counted toward one’s attendance at school? COVID-19 has demanded that children be supplied by computer technology, yet to this day, many Chromebooks, or their equivalents have been on back order, due to orders placed late in the season and the need by the City Hall to get a loan in order to buy the equipment, but that reality is kept hidden, and so hope is undermined by the reality of claiming equipment is on order through New York State’s buying power at lower rates. The loan required has not been authorized!!! In the meanwhile, the 2020-2021 school year is only months from closing and still the equipment sought languishes from ever being realized or a bond to purchase is engaged. Yonkers Finance Commissioner has always claimed that the best time to seek a bond is in the month of December; that was five weeks ago and the Yonkers City Council has not yet authorized to seek the funding on the bond market to buy the equipment. The Yonkers Board of Education asserts they are seeking to purchase equipment that costs about $500 per unit. The absurdity of that is that a Chromebook, while not a computer, is in fact a machine that is a conduit to the Internet, is kept clean of viruses, is always up to date technologically without downloading, and has the capacity to do everything a computer does without the costs. Five months ago I saw a Chromebook manufactured by the well respected Korean manufacturer Samsung on Amazon for $189.00 per unit. Approaching such a firm for a reduced volume discount would reduce the price immeasurably. Despite the capacity to abide by the “talk” our kids have no capacity to learn because they do not have the tools to do so. It seems “talk” is indeed cheap.
The Yonkers Tribune has often divulged that the Yonkers Board of Education has for too long squandered funds by buying books from publishers, keeping them in the money, with repeat orders to publishers for the same books 2 or 3 years later due to damage. The information in those books is available online and is consistently updated on the Internet. The cost of two, three, or four books would buy the cost of a Chromebook priced at $189.
Have you noticed some children, perhaps weighing 50 to 75 pounds, even more, laden with backpacks full of books that they can hardly stand straight? Yonkers does not have a university within its borders. On every level of subject matter, from kindergarten through high school, regarding the curriculum needed to be taught, nothing has changed. Math, English, Spanish, French, German, Chinese, etc., literary works, old and modern, science, ecology, have not changed on the level of education taught. The level of education subject matter that is being learned today that is changing may be esoteric sciences, mathematics being formulated and studied with respect to new theories, and new technology is all available on the Internet, why then does the Yonkers Board of Education maintain its effort on keeping book publishers in business?
Then there is the deception promoted by the Yonkers Public Schools which permits students to sign on to a computer, if they have one, even for as little as 5 seconds, to be counted as attending class. The “grab bag” breakfast and lunch permits students to be counted attending class so the Yonkers Public School District can earn money by counting those in attendance as well. Yet the “grab bag” student need not attend any classes. Once they leave the premises the school district is no longer concerned over their whereabouts. They are not even required to attend any classes. Similarly, signing onto their Chromebook/computer for as little as 5 seconds. It is a sham and a shame that this is permitted.
To make matters worse, when the Yonkers Board of Education sends out notices of 90 percent passing test scores for 2019 and 2020, it is an outright lie because the New York State Board of Education expunged/removed all that data from their records. Even so, the Yonkers Public Schools District has the nerve to lie about the reality that is very different. The YPS District asserts the student population graduated at 89 or 90 percent, and that bilingual education has graduation levels of 85 percent.
Can this deceit continue? Evidently so, but… Yes, there is a but! Parents/guardians must demand, that should they not speak English well, that they have the right to be advised of the circumstances regarding their child’s/children’s performance in their native tongue. This may be the only option left for parents/guardians to secure an education for their children. Parents will learn the scam perpetrated against them and their children. And in their knowing, will demand remedy. They will remember why they left the old country to arrive in America. Their involvement is crucial to changing the deceit permitted by the YPS District, and that continues to languish in the New York State Legislature unfunded.
The Yonkers Public School District is not benevolent or concerned about your child. The actual tests scores from years ago prove it to be so.
With 27,000 students or more registered by the YPS District it should be able to get thousands of people to demonstrate their disgust and anguish before the Yonkers Board of Education and Yonkers City Hall. Those working cannot attend. The demonstration before City Hall or the Yonkers Board of Eduction can and must take place on weekends, Saturday or Sunday or both. The whole family should attend together. If attending prayer at your house of worship, join the demonstration thereafter. Thousands should be able to attend and media from New York City, Yonkers, and the world will be watching and telling Yonkers’ reality.
After all, wasting one’s time traveling by bus to solicit assistance from our elected officials for more funding is not only a waste of time, but an excuse that subliminally suggests to those parents who travelled to Albany for beseeching our elected officials for funding failed because parents in Albany returned home having gained verbal support but no funding. Guess what, parents who do travel to Albany have not failed. It is not the parents’ job to travel to Albany. The responsibility to deliver is borne on those Yonkersites who have been elected to office.
Alas, for the last 20 years, the promises have been prolific, the results have been paltry. The outcry that Yonkers has not gotten its fair share of funding is correct, but Yonkers is not alone in this plight. Within Westchester County, besides Yonkers, similar circumstances undermine Ossining, Port Chester, and Mount Vernon similarly. Communities who suffer likewise are to be found on Long Island, and throughout New York State. Despite the reality, a concerted effort by the NYS Legislature to correct this wrong is met with talk and more talk, but no constructive conduct, much less remedy. So the “talk” continues, yet continues to be outstripped by a diminution of educational excellence.
Resolution to the deficiency exhibited by the present Yonkers Board of Education Trustees, who are in fact the “boss” of the Yonkers Public Schools District Superintendent Dr. Edwin Quezada, have not only dropped the ball, but they seemingly have no interest in correcting the circumstances they wrought.
Parents must make it known to the Yonkers Board of Education Trustees that they have failed to deliver on our collective trust of them by demonstrating in huge numbers when the weather changes to the coming Spring. It is time parents stepped up their game plan and delivered for “our children”! Nothing less is acceptable, nothing else will wake up Yonkers!