About a month or so back, I had a substitute teacher named Mr. Forbes. He was a history teacher, but he could speak Spanish and had been put to sub for my Spanish literature class. My teacher hadn't left any classwork and we were all caught up with the reading, so Mr. Forbes decided to have a conversation with the class(at first in Spanish but then in English!).
He started by telling us about himself. He told us that he was a history teacher being rotated around different schools for two week periods of time by the Department of Education. He then told us about his experiences at Stuyvesant and asked us about the school. The class was very small only totaling about 15 kids so the discussion flowed nicely. What it boiled down to was that Stuyvesant students were more respectful of their teachers than in most schools, but the school itself was run in an antiquated manner. He told us that anywhere else in the city, Delaney cards have been eliminated and that setting up classrooms in rows has mostly been done away with. At Stuyvesant, most classes are set up into rows. English and a few other miscellaneous classes are set up in U-shapes for the sake of discussion. He described along the lines of Stuyvesant being in a bubble while the rest of the city changed. It didn't make much sense to me to set up a math class in a U-shape; most participation in a math class is explanation of taken procedures to solve a problem and often involves individuals going to the blackboard. I asked Forbes about this and he said it was the result of the bureaucracy of reformers trying to change education in the city. His theory was that since all or most of these reformers sent their children to private school, the plan they had was to make public schools follow the example of private schools, which often have their classes set up at small round tables. He called them out of touch, as class sizes in public schools are much larger making the private school approach impossible. He also told us about how as a young teacher, he was a zealot eager to head into the toughest schools around and try to change things. The problem was, the DOE started evaluating teachers based on the performance of their students. He said that this was a terrible strategy, as it scared the quality teachers away from trouble schools.
The tone Mr. Forbes used was on the pessimistic side of the scale, but he was always open to hear what we had to say. He gave off the impression that he was a high quality teacher tired of a broken system. What do you guys think? As you are better equipped with knowledge on education than a class of Stuyvesant students living in a bubble, your observations and opinions on the reform of high schools in the city should be most interesting.