Monday, October 31, 2005

Not signing up for SES

The NY Post reported on Saturday that more than 84 percent of poor students in NYC have not signed up for free SES tutoring. This number is astounding, but it doesn't really surprise me after what I've seen at my school. Even though the school has actually done a decent job of distributing materials and providing information sessions this year, I have talked to a number of parents that still have no idea what SES is (this probably occurs either because a lot of parents never visit the school, or because immigrant parents receive almost no information in their native language). So schools and the DOE have to do a better job of explaining SES, particularly to immigrant parents. Bloomy's new translation office is up and running, and it seems to be doing some good work, but it needs to get moving on big projects like this. For instance, the school provided a Spanish translator at the SES fair, but the DOE really should have had translators for several Asian languages.

The other problem with SES is that when parents do understand and come in to sign their kids up, they are immediately attacked by the for-profit company that has set up shop in and around the school. It's a confusing process anyway, and I think it is being made worse by the cutthroat competition among providers. The word may be getting out more because of the resources from the for-profit companies, but it's obviously not sinking in. Maybe all the providers should take a deep breath and remember that the kids really need the extra help with all the focus on testing. But parents have to be involved in the decision, not just hit up for their signature on the provider form, in order for the kids to get the help.

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