Bracetti Academy, Part 3

Part 3 of 5 – Student voice

As promised, in their April 15th edition Focus Newspaper published the writings of several students expressing positive feelings about their school and its staff. While there was never a doubt that the staff at Bracetti School is loving and caring (at least, NF never wrote such), the school felt that it was necessary to point that out. So four students’ works were published to show that for the most part – less than 1% anyway – students love their school and are satisfied with the quality of education they are afforded.

After the publication of Bracetti students’ writing, a friend asked me whether that was valid enough an argument for the school’s administration. She said that the system – supposedly the education system – is designed to help students accept the status quo despite poor standards and substandard results. More importantly, she ventured, what student would write – especially for a teacher in his or her school – a negative synopsis of the problems they see with their school? Furthermore, if the administration is less than qualified but had ways of covering that up, what student would know to write about it?

So NF poses the question to the community: Are parents and students of Bracetti Academy getting an administration that is qualified to serve them? If not, does the school’s community know? Simply, if the community doesn’t know that it’s getting less than it deserves, there won’t be any complaints. That same community will continue to accept substandard as the norm, and no one will be the wiser.

Fine. What about students that don’t like what they see in their school? They likely won’t be writing a nice letter to the principal or to the editor, mind you. If ever reporting could be called one-sided, then, it would have to be on the part of Bracetti Academy in its response to the allegations from parents. The letters they published in Focus Newspaper didn’t talk about how students that want to learn can’t do so with a substitute teacher that “comes to school to sleep.” They don’t describe the inconsistent uniform policy and favoritism toward non-Black and non-Hispanic students. They don’t even begin to express the fear of some students that the small hallways and 12 exits – assigned to 4 NTA’s (Non-Teaching Assistants) and 3 School Police Officers – do not provide them a sense of safety and security. Those letters certainly didn’t mention anything about outside children dressing in Bracetti uniform and infiltrating the school, subtracting further from student safety.

Rest assured that no letter that the school allows to be published concerning the school will include any of those concerns. Of the 990 students enrolled in the school this year, four positive “public relations” pieces were selected to defend the school’s belief that students like the school just fine. Rest assured that of those 990 students, the eleven who expressed opposite feelings – not about the school, but about they way it is run – will not see their fears and tales of dying hopes published by the school. In fact, students willing to tell the truth about what they see as problems with the school’s administration don’t even want their names mentioned for fear they would suffer some discrimination in their school later.

We keep using this word “discrimination.” This isn’t a word that NF came up with to describe what parents, students and personnel say is going on at the Academy. This is the word that parents used to describe how they felt about approaching school administration on certain issues. In defense, the school boasted an increase from 49% to 69% Latino population since the school opened in 2000. It’s a feeble mind that only interprets discrimination as a race issue.

Parents said that they felt the school discriminated against them and that they didn’t feel the school leadership violates the rights of Latinos by not providing administration qualified to serve the Hispanic community. Parents did not say that they felt the school discriminated against Latinos or the Latino community. The school, then, defended their position by extolling the increased Latino population among other accomplishments. In that sense, they missed the point by a mile! From that far away, who can hear the student voice anyway?