As noted, there wasn’t that much of a numerical change between 2009-2010 school year to the 2010-2011, but upon deeper inspection, you can see upward trends. [Insert chart from Legacy Stats created in Dec]
Attendance rates are influenced by a variety of factors that include home environment, preparation for school and feeling capable, extracurricular activities and school environment. The reality is that in 2010:
- 95% of students are eligible for free or reduced lunch, which indicates income levels at home. Additionally, 3% of our student population was homeless. We are one school but we need to situate ourselves within a larger context of New York City. As programs and social services are being cut throughout the city, more support is needed within the school. The social and emotional issues that accompany students from under-resourced neighborhoods and schools need those supports provided at their school. However, we are experiencing cuts directly related to this need such as our loss of a social worker, the parent coordinator and a nurse. These challenges affect attendance rates.
- A peer index is the average 8th grade math and English test scores combined. The highest peer index a student can have is 4.0. Our current peer index is 1.56 or 2.6? (check stat). This means that we continue to receive many students who were not fully prepared in elementary and middle school. Research has found that students will not come to school if they feel inadequate and this challenge will affect attendance rates.
- Equally, budget cuts have reduced access to art, music, dance, theater, foreign language, computer skills/technology, school sports teams or clubs, tutoring and enrichment activities. Although the principal is in charge of the budget and how it is used, what must be understood that there is money that is not flexible and has to be used for certain items. In our most current school survey, 42% of students were not offered art before-school, after-school or during free periods. The same can be said for 66% of students not being offered music; 52% not being offered dance; 74% not being offered theater; 60% not being offered foreign language; 74% not being offered computer skills/technology; 54% of students were not offered school sports teams or clubs; and 58% of students were not offered tutoring or enrichment activities. If students are not able to develop other aspects of intelligence, they would be less likely to come to school. An education is more than reading and writing, but with budget reductions each year, schools have to do more with less and have to put resources in place to make sure that students pass their academic subjects. Yes, all schools are experiencing budget cuts, but other schools have immense parent associations that invest much of their money to supplement these types of programs. At Legacy, we do not have that luxury. Parents from Legacy use their income to provide for their families and after that, there is not much left over. We do not blame the lack of these programs in our school on the administration and teachers at Legacy; we blame the Department of Education.
When you look at the whole picture of attendance, you see these other variables that will affect it. We understand that students need to be present to learn, but at the same time, the Department of Education needs to understand that there are many variables to consider that cannot be blamed on Legacy staff, students and parents.
Regardless of these challenges, the school environment is changing and Ms. Mosely has been an essential aspect of that change. Within her short amount of time [more is needed in this section]:
- ENACT, our community-based organization that specializes in dropout prevention, has expanded their work to include the 10th grade in addition to the 9th grade. Not only has this helped students have accessible strategies to use when confronted with social and emotional challenges but will connect them to the world of theatre and drama in an engaging way.
- College Summit and Strive for College have partnered with Legacy in assisting Juniors and Seniors in the college application process. Four sections of a College Preparatory class have been created. This creates a college going culture that sets high expectations and is fully aware of their post-secondary choices.
- We are partnering with Future Project that provides one-on-one mentorship as well helps students create social entrepreneurial projects that are focused on increasing their community’s capacity.
- The Save Legacy Committee is creating a culture of activism, unity and community organizing. They are the leaders behind a growing student movement that analyzes the world around them and speak up for the rights of students within the DOE structure. They have been featured in Pix11, Gotham Schools, NY1, DNAinfo, The Today Show, Huffington Post Teen Twitter and other media.
However, parents, students, teachers and administration at Legacy understand that much more change is needed, but we all feel that we are heading in the appropriate direction with dependable leadership. In the latest Quality Review, Ms. Mosely obtained a well-developed in:
- Establish a coherent vision of future development that is reflected in a short list of focused, data-based goals that are understood and supported by the entire school community.
Communication and joint vision is important in transforming a school. Ms. Mosely also obtained a proficient rating in:
- Communicate high expectations to students and families, engage them in decision-making and promote active involvement in the school community.
In comparison, our past administration received underdeveloping with proficient features for both of those measures.
If the Department of Education decides to phase-out and close Legacy, they will be interfering with the stability and the process that we are making. This will affect our future school environment and attendance rates. We have potential and are creating a Legacy that we can all be proud of. Phasing out a school that has potential and is making change does not make sense.