Residents press city council on education
New Brunswick residents are dissatisfied with the city’s public schools and made it known during the public portion of last night’s city council meeting.
Charlie Kratovil, a University alumnus who is seeking a seat on the council, was the first to raise the issue.
“We assessed that the graduation rate was the poorest in the county,” he said.
Kratovil said he was concerned to find, by some measures, that New Brunswick ranks below most other schools in state.
“I know now that new formulas have been applied, and we’re in the bottom part of the state, as well.”
Kratovil asked the council what their “vision” for improving the dismal education numbers was.
Councilman Glenn Fleming, a former teacher, said that using the same formulas across the board skewed the rankings when applied to urban schools.
“You cannot use the same measures and the same paradigms that you use in other districts,” he said.
Fleming said the state measures special needs students and those who are the first generation of English speakers in their household by the same standards for tests given throughout all districts.
“It only tells you how the kids took the test that day,” he said. “What starts to happen is, you have to look at different measurements.”
Low-income factors also affect urban education environments and other districts are not as susceptible to those constraints, he said.
“We have a lot of instances where parents didn’t graduate themselves,” he said, “so now how can they help their kids out?”
Tormel Pittman, a New Brunswick resident, said Fleming was shifting the blame from teachers who are not concerned about their students’ progress.
“Parents didn’t put the kids in the warehouses,” Pittman said in reference to the A.C. Redshaw School’s temporary location.
He said more responsibility should be put on the teachers to prepare their students to go to college.
“My kids, they don’t go to New Brunswick’s school system,” Pittman said, “but if my daughter’s [grades] happen to drop at any time, I get an email from her teacher.”
Pittman said compassion was lacking in the New Brunswick school system and questioned why funding did not make an impact on the district’s ranking.
Fleming said funding does not always make it to the student level because of other costs in the schools.
Fleming said the funding goes to different services throughout the schools and that “throwing money at the problem” is not the best solution.
Ray Hernandez, an employee of New Brunswick 4H, said his program sought to work with New Brunswick schools to prepare students for college but was repeatedly rejected by the Board of Education.
Hernandez, a University alumnus, said the program offers counseling to students who are coming to him more and more with questions about college preparation.
“These students come to me with issues and questions about college,” he said, “And they’re not being prepared or taught.”
Hernandez said students are being fed false information about what colleges are looking for.
“I just want to add one thing,” he said, “4H is free.”
Teresa Vivar, president of Lazos America Unida, a program affiliated with 4H, said they were willing to work with the city and education system.
“We have parents who care,” she said, “And there’s been unwillingness to work with us.”
Vivar said the organizations aim to work together through the city, the schools and the parents.
“How many bars do we have?” she asked. “We want good places for the kids.”