The valedictorian of Brooklyn’s High School for Legal Studies was denied her diploma because she criticized the school in her graduation speech. Tiffany Schley, who’s heading to Smith on a full scholarship, refuses to apologize, reports the New York Daily News.
Among her gripes: The school has had four principals in four years, overcrowded classes, a shortage of textbooks and other basic materials, unqualified teachers, unstable staffing and uncaring administrators who refused to meet with students to discuss the school’s problems.
“They always want to keep the problems hush-hush, but what goes on in this school is real,” said Tiffany, who was also the editor of the school newspaper, yearbook chairwoman and a member of the student council.
One teacher who attended the graduation said the audience was shocked by the speech.
“The administration was very nervous, but the students were definitely in support of her,” the teacher said.
When Schley came to school yesterday to pick up her diploma with the rest of her classmates, she and her mother were told they had been disrespectful and were escorted out of the building.
If the school has taught its students anything about the law, I’m sure she’ll get her diploma without having to grovel.
The High School for Legal Studies was created when a large, very bad high school was broken into small, specialized schools. While small schools are supposed to engage students and create a sense of community, many are faddish and unaccountable for results, opines Ryan Safer in the New York Post. He doesn’t think much of the new “Peace and Diversity Academy,” one of 70 small schools that will open this fall.
. . . there’s the dingbat problem: The city’s top advocate of small schools is the leftist group New Visions for Public Schools, which is concerned mainly with self-esteem and political activism. The group has gotten fat off of city contracts. It will run 43 of this fall’s new schools.
. . . So many of the city’s small high schools have been exempted from Regents exams, and allowed to judge students based on fuzzy “portfolios” of their work, that there’s no test-score data to review. The best the city can point to: slightly above-average attendance rates.
Academically rigorous schools are “placed in neighborhoods where parents fully expect their children to go to college.” The faddish schools end up in the Bronx and Harlem. For example, New Visions opened the Urban Peace Academy in East Harlem in 1993.
The school says it addresses “issues of peace and justice, wealth and power, racism and oppression and the creation of ourselves and our cultures.” What’s missing there? Hint: Fewer than half of Urban Peace Academy’s class of 2003 met state Regents English standards and none met Regents math standards.
Some of the new schools that will open in a few months don’t have principals or teachers hired yet.
Update: Valedictorian Tiffany Schley will get her diploma, without having to apologize for her graduation speech. The New York Daily News reports:
Before the ceremony, she submitted her speech to an assistant principal, as required, but he rewrote it and gave it back to her on graduation day, she said.
“He typed over it and had me glorifying the school,” she said.
She stuck with her first speech, but couldn’t finish giving it because the assistant principal cut the microphone — before she got to her positive comments about the school.