35 School Children Committed Suicide In Last Three Years In New York City

This news story bolted me upright in my desk chair today.  When I read about the shortage of guidance counselors my heart sank.  We must do better at funding these resources that can make a difference for our nation’s youth.  Anything less is unconscionable.

I am just guessing that the number of sports-related employees did not fall by the same percentage in the city schools as guidance counselors.

Thirty-five public-school kids have killed themselves in the past three school years, the Department of Education revealed — an unpublicized trend that Chancellor Carmen Fariña only hinted at last week when she told principals in a private meeting that 10 children had taken their lives during her first seven weeks on the job.

The 2011-12 school year saw nine suicides, with 14 in 2012-13. So far this year, with a third of the term left, there have been a dozen, DOE confirmed.

Meanwhile, schools’ safety net for troubled youths is shrinking. The number of social workers, guidance counselors and psychologists assigned to public schools has fallen 7 percent since 2008, going from 5,676 to about 5,300, according to DOE data.

“It’s scary,” said Dr. Roy Lubit, a child psychiatrist. “A small decrease can be devastating.”


Removing Essay Requirement From SAT Misguided

This is short and says everything.

There are themes to this blog such as the importance of newspapers, how the process of government is important, and the need for gun control.  One of the other often-posted topics that spreads out over so many aspects of our society is the dumbing-down that continually takes place.  While some applauded the removal of the requirement for an essay portion of the SAT I saw this as a weakening of standards.

What is wrong with making sure a potential college student can enter higher education with the ability to communicate with a well-crafted presentation of ideas?  If they can not then we need to have a very serious discussion with the schools and teachers who failed them.

Unfortunately, the drive to educational excellence took a body blow recently when the College Board stripped from its SATs the requirement to write an essay.

In doing so, College Board officials reportedly said the exam needs to be more representative of what students study in high school and the skills they need to succeed in college and afterward. The test should offer “worthy challenges, not artificial obstacles,” according to College Board President David Coleman.

On the one hand, we can’t fault the College Board for wanting to test what students have been taught. But it is inane to suggest the essay portion of the SATs is not reflective on one’s needs in the job world.

“Yo,” “What’s up,” “LOL” or “:)” do not reflect the communication skills needed to win and hold a job. However, an ability to formulate thoughts and to convey those thoughts intelligently to others is critical to success.

Nationally syndicated columnist Kathleen Parker recently addressed the issue:

These tweaks (changes to the SATs) are a shame as educators lose measures that provided critical information. The essay, for instance, wasn’t a call to Emersonian excellence but was a way of determining whether a student can compose a coherent sentence. You know, subject, verb — all that stuff — not to mention whether one can think. If a person can’t write a series of sentences to express a cogent thought, does that person really qualify for a college education? For what purpose?”

We understand not every student is destined to be a Shakespeare, a T.S. Elliot or a Joseph Pulitzer. But putting a noun, verb and object in the proper order is not rocket science. And asking that the SATs test such knowledge and that it be taught in our classrooms is to demand only the basics in education.