Friday, November 18, 2011

Queens Metro HS Update - DOE Swarms In, Programs After Thanksgiving

Breaking: The principal “can’t find” a physics teacher so she is using a special ed teacher to teach physics with packets prepared by another physics teacher. Parents don’t know this.
There has been some action since yesterday on this story: Growing Scandal at Queens Metro Tech that illustrates that Tweed couldn't give a crap until a story break in the press.

I really think I broke the news that Walcott's daughter teaches gym at this school where the kids don't get gym - I even got a call from a reporter asking me if that was true.

I've gotten some email and comments and there is so much that is indicative about the failures of ed deform in this one school alone. Unfortunately, teachers  - both young and not as young are getting some of the splash from administrative incompetence. But as the parent letter I posted on Norms Notes indicates, the lack of accountability goes right to the top. If I were running a school system and even 2 weeks into the school year I heard of these scheduling problems I would send in as many people needed to straighten it out. But the WalBlackBloomKlein is hands off the schools they are supposed to run, managing from looking at data from afar and limiting their managing to closing schools and opening others, especially charters - my facetious line yesterday that in their world the solution lies in offering choice.

The pressure since the story broke about the City Councilwoman’s children at the school and the Chancellor’s daughter proved too much for the DOE and the network and Tweed types swarmed the building. They allegedly completed student programs and there is a special plan to disseminate it with scripted statements read by each teacher to their students explaining why the programs had to be changed again. The principal is feeling the effects of the pressure; lost weight, keeps to herself behind her office door.

The program rollout will not take effect until after Thanksgiving. There will be three days where administration will answer parent questions after school. Next Tuesday is PTA meeting where much of this will be announced.

After tabulating seat time it was determined by the network that many students will have to attend classes during vacation to receive credit for their classes. Also the teacher schedules were so screwed up the principal will have to hire 3 new teachers to make up for the extra classes assigned to many teachers without compensation.

The principal had ideas that theoretically may have been good but in practicality ended up with some teachers teaching extra long periods while others sat around with less to do. Did this cause some resentment? Maybe a bit. The UFT Queens HS District Rep was told that the teacher schedules were too long a year ago and did nothing about it, supposedly saying "the principal is new, give her a chance." According to sources, no sign of him today.

Letter from a parent:
Good Morning Mr. Scott, 

I read your blog this morning about QMHS and I am writing to sincerely thank you from the bottom of my heart. As a parent of a 10th grader at QMHS I appreciate what you are doing for our children. These issues have been going on at this school since day 1 and nothing has been resolved. I've personally discussed half the issues you talk about in your blog with the principal, the assistant principals, advisers and get no "real" answers, nothing is done to solve ANY of the problems. This is my son's first year in the public school system as he has attended private school since 1st grade and I can not tell you how disappointed I am. I had to take him out of private school last year because I simply could not afford it, and it really saddens me to have to now send my son to a school that is basically not teaching him anything. 

10th grade is an extremely important grade, the students need to prepare for the SAT exam, regents...and unfortunately this school is doing nothing to help them in those areas. At this point they can barely teach the basic classes let alone prepare the students for any future exams.

I am willing to help in any way possible to try and resolve this issue or bring it more to light. Feel free to contact me and again thank you for your time. 
 a concerned parent!   

And to show that the top people at the DOE were informed about problems with the principal:
I raised red flags about the Queens Metro principal beginning months before the school opened in September, 2010 - to Marc Sternberg of Portfolio and Chancellor Klein, among others. I thought she was too pie-in-the-sky about the Physics First curriculum for 9th graders and using on-line only teaching of foreign languages with Rosetta Stone software. (Correction though about her background - at a public meeting she stated she taught for 5 or 7 years at Packer, a private school, so I'm not sure about the business background Norm claims she comes from - she seemed pretty young to me to have had 14 years of business/teaching experience.)

After the school's first year, apparently only a handful of students (out of 400-plus 9th graders) were able to take the Physics Regents and the Rosetta Stone language instruction was abandoned (after the software was received, I believe, a couple or several months into the last school year). I have been told that this year's 9th graders are not getting foreign language instruction at all, though since I don't have a kid in the school, this is hard to confirm.

Another point: this is supposed to be a 1,000 seat school (250 students per grade), but last year it had well over 400 9th graders which was a surprise to the administrators and caused some havoc last year as well. I would agree with the comment that there have been failures at many levels by DOE. If you have a brand new school with someone who has never been a principal before, it seems to me the network leader should be all over the situation to make sure things were going well. I even accused Portfolio of not taking any responsibility - how do you approve a theme and a school leader and then not take stock of how that works out?

This year another large new high school opened in the same Metro facility - Maspeth High School (which will move into new construction next September). I have no idea how that school is doing, but wonder if we'll be hearing of similar problems there come this time next year...


P.S. City Councilmember Liz Crowley has one or both of her kids at Queens Metro, so I agree that this school will most likely get attention (which it needs) while many other schools with similar problems will not. So sad...

Another story about scheduling problems at a Queens High School this year
Check out Norms Notes for a variety of articles of interest: And make sure to check out the side panel on the right for important bits.


  1. "DOE swarms in..."

    Yes, like locusts.

  2. I personally know three ATR Physics teachers. Why didn't the Principal interview them?

    Did you really expect the HS District rep to do anything? He was not nicknam3ed "the non-swimmer in deep water" for nothing.

  3. Today's story in The Daily News was quite amusing. Parents let Walcott have it!! And Walcott had the nerve to say he doesn't talk "shop" with his daughter.

    Why wasn't she selected to teach Physics???

    What's the point of having a daddy with connections if you can't tell him that a school is not functioning??

    It's really wonderful to see this man and Bloomberg unravel.

    btw, is it true Tampa sent in a tank on the OWS protestors? I was also shocked to see the treatment of college students. The powers are setting up another Kent State.

    Meanwhile, it's okay to riot if a coach is dismissed, but not protest peacefully against the corporate takeover of this country,

    And don't forget Newt came out with his education platform--force 3rd graders from poor families to work 20 hours cleaning the school.

    That story is up on SUPPORT PUBLIC SCHOOLS on FB.


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