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Schools, Families, Communities

rachaelkoone's picture

"It is not only schools that are failing these students, but also families and communities." (Casella 75)

Students that met before the screening committee at Brandon High were disadvantaged students who had not been successful in day school, and were usually given opportunities in either the afternoon school, the GED program, or the OLC technical program. These students had been absent from school for varied reasons, and all for significant amounts of time, yet they all desired to go to the day school first and foremost. Students recognized that the day school was the optimum place to get an education, and the other programs were often seen as second-class programs compared to the others. While they all expressed their desire to stay in the day program, none of them were allowed to continue or enter the day program, as they were considered at high risk for failure. By placing these students on a level that was pre-determined for them, even if the programs did fit with their schedules more easily, it may have sent the message that they only deserved to be in an alternative program. While the alternative programs have their merits, many of the students considered them second-rate. In this way, the school has failed them. Jamil had a simple request to switch biology teachers, and stay in the day school. But the resources of the school were stretched at best, and so Jamil did not receive his second chance. Many of the students came to the screening board with a case worker, or maybe one, and sometimes both parents. Some students did not live with their parents. Families often fought hard for their children, but were also disconnected from what was happening at school (in the case of Jamil's mother being unaware of his absences). When the school and parents cannot work together, it is harder for anyone to reach the student. Combined with zero tolerance policies inside the school, and few alternatives outside school, not to mention an already elevated crime rate, many students may get mixed up with illegal activities either as perpretators or as victims, feeding the school-to-prison pipeline.


jccohen's picture


You note that "students recognized that the day school was the optimum place to get an education, and the other programs were often seen as second-class programs compared to the others."  This is an interesting point, and one that doesn't seem to get taken up by anyone on the screening committee; students' preference for day school seems to suggest that they still have a sense that school could prove helpful for them.  While on the one hand that doesn't match the message from the school, which is that the system is overwhelmed and not prepared to handle students who bring along difficulties, on the other it speaks compellingly for these youths' resilience, their motivation to try again...  What might this suggest in terms of how to support students even when they're in these ambiguous spaces, e.g. lacking credits?