Sunday, July 14, 2002


As Daryl Cobranchi says, "there are some schools where, apparently, no one cares."

This New York Times editorial is heartbreaking.

I had reason to be worried about this boy. His foster mother said he cried every day before he left for school and begged not to go. She also said he wasn't doing well and that other kids were picking on him.

With that in mind, I met with his teacher last month. She teaches the most advanced section of first grade at the central Harlem elementary school where the boy is a student. She told me the boy was functioning at a pre-kindergarten level. Unlike the other kids in the class, he couldn't read, write or do simple arithmetic. Since early September, when he entered her class, he hadn't completed even one homework assignment. When he wrote his name, hardly anyone could read it.

Why was this boy in the most advanced class? His teacher told me that when he enrolled in school last fall, a few days late, there was more room for him in her class than in the other first-grade classes. For 10 months, she had handed back the boy's assignments as incomplete — or with a little frown scrawled at the top of the page.

I was stunned. The boy had been sitting in class since September not knowing what was going on. When a little boy is having as hard a time as he was, the teacher or the guidance counselor should have him evaluated so he can be helped. If he had been tested last September and found to be eligible for special education classes, he would have received the special education to which he is legally entitled. Or at least he could have been assigned to a teacher who knew how to teach him to read — and he would not have spent six hours a day, five days a week, for 10 months, being ignored.

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