Opinion: Why I’m Taking My Child Out of Our Renewal School
When I discovered that my child would be attending Wadleigh Secondary School for the Performing & Visual Arts, one of New York City’s "Renewal Schools," I was filled with hope. I myself had attended Wadleigh as a young girl, and although I knew it was struggling back then, I believed that with the new focus and resources that came with the Renewal program, the school had the potential to improve. Unfortunately, even with the new label, the school continues to fail its students.
When Mayor Bill de Blasio introduced the concept of Renewal Schools in November 2014, he portrayed them as the centerpiece of his education platform. He promised that the program would revive schools that were chronically underperforming.
However, in my neighborhood of Harlem and in other similar communities, nothing has changed. The schools are still not making the progress that parents both desire and need to see. It is evident to me that politicians like the mayor are not doing enough to disrupt a severely flawed system. Instead, the children in my community are stuck in the same cycle of failure year after year.
Regrettably, Wadleigh Secondary School serves as a prime example of what is wrong with the current state of education. In the past two state assessments, not a single student demonstrated proficiency in math. It is disheartening to note that these numbers have actually worsened since the implementation of the Renewal program. Consequently, I do not consider this to be a genuine turnaround plan, and neither do other parents, which is why enrollment has declined by 40 percent since the mayor took office.
My child describes school as a roller coaster experience. She puts in the effort but consistently falls short in algebra. In her English class, she was on the honor roll last semester but due to illness, missed a few days of school, resulting in her removal from the honor roll by her teacher. What kind of message does this send to a child who is genuinely trying their best? I feel that none of her teachers are fully committed to providing the necessary support based on each student’s individual learning and personality needs, and there is a lack of accountability among the teaching staff.
To exacerbate matters, my child has been subjected to constant bullying since starting at Wadleigh. Despite speaking with the principal on multiple occasions, no action has been taken to address this issue.
I will not give up. I fight tirelessly every day to ensure that my child receives a high-quality education. I make an effort to maintain constant communication with her teachers. However, the school lacks the organization and resources to provide her with the instruction she requires to be college-ready by the time she graduates.
Every child deserves access to a high-quality education, but the current system is failing both my community and my child. This is why I applied for a place at a charter school. I refuse to let my child become just another statistic. The charter school we are on the waiting list for offers real hope, opportunity, and tangible results. Mr. Mayor, you can bestow an impressive title upon a school, but unless you enact the necessary changes, another generation of children will suffer.
Lucy Garner is a parent at Wadleigh Secondary School for the Performing & Visual Arts in Harlem.