School bells are ringing again for the summer as New York City students started their first day of summer classes on Tuesday.
About 34,000 elementary and middle school students whose preliminary state exam scores did not meet the requirement for promotion are attending summer school, according to the Department of Education (DOE).
The 10,000 students recommended by the DOE come in addition to the 23,000 in attendance last year.
Students with a score of one or two out of four on the state English and math exams are suggested to take courses for additional help and instruction over the summer.
“Before promoting any of these students to the next grade, we need to make sure they have mastered the skills needed to succeed,” said DOE spokeswoman Marge Feinberg in an email. “The extra time spent in summer school may be crucial in preparing these students for the next level.”
Although the department recommends additional instruction over the summer, Councilman Charles Barron said the extra instruction would not be necessary if teachers were able to instruct students better during the school year.
“Education is for liberation. Education should be culturally uplifting. We don’t have a culturally relevant curriculum,” Barron said. “Our kids don’t know who they are because they’re not learning it in school-it’s hard to teach cognitive skills and academic skills when they don’t even know who they are culturally.”
Along with the additional students, DOE’s current education budget is about $52 million, an increase of $5 million from last year, according to DOE spokesman Matt Mittenthal. The allocated money will go towards school resources to help accommodate the additional students.
The lack of student accommodation and instruction are the two factors that contribute to the disarray in the public school system, says Barron. He wants the co-location of charter schools into buildings designed for one school should end.
“It creates chaos, because now you have three or four schools sharing the same bathroom, sharing the same lunchroom, sharing the same auditorium,” Barron said. “The school was not designed for that. They need to stop turning our schools into test-taking mills and need to teach our children.”