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Comments of the week: Finding the stories within the stories

Sometimes, the front-page story contains only a hint of the real story. This week, we’re showcasing readers whose comments brought attention to policy narratives behind the headlines.

As a reminder, each Friday we highlight a sampling of the most thoughtful, substantive, and informed comments that readers left on the week’s news articles. We believe that a constructive conversation in the comments section helps us meet our goal of elevating public dialogue about education.

On Monday, we wrote about the groundbreaking for a new building that will allow the highly selective Beacon High School to serve more students. A reader posting as “HS Biology Teacher” implied that the city’s decision about Beacon’s size contrasts with its recent emphasis on schools of fewer than 500 students. He writes,

1500 students… that’s, in my opinion, the perfect size for a school. Large enough to be able to offer a variety of courses and clubs, but small enough to minimize the dangers of students being lost in the crowd.

And another reader, “Tony,” suggested that Beacon’s selectivity might make the school complicit in concentrating low-performing students in some schools. State Education Commissioner John King sides with those concerned that a high concentration of needy students makes it hard for schools to succeed, a fear that city officials reject. Tony writes about Beacon:

In exchange for being given a new building they should be required to take zoned kids along with the screened ones. Enough with the creaming already.

On our story earlier this week previewing the year’s tenure data, released today, “NYC Teacher” wrote that intermittent reports of principals having their tenure recommendations overturned suggests that the city thinks it has a leadership problem:

The message I see between the lines here is that the ratings officers in those schools are not trusted by the DOE. If the DOE doesn’t trust their own management structure then they should U rate and oust those administrators, not take it out on hard-working teachers. The [principals union] is much weaker than the UFT. The problem is finding qualified replacements.

And “Chaz” left a comment on a story about the end-of-summer job hunt for teachers still looking for a position to argue that diminishing rigor in city schools might be one reason that some physics teachers are still on the market. He writes,

How clueless the teaching fellow who wants a Physics position is. Many schools no longer offer Physics and the ones who do limit it to one teacher.

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