DOE-Mandated Schedule Changes Trouble Students and Teachers

Grace Wan, ‘18

At the start of the 2014-2015 school year, BHSEC and schools across New York City were introduced to a new schedule enacted by the Department of Education (DOE). Up until this year, students were given the opportunity to visit their teachers for 30-minute tutoring sessions every weekday. This year, the blocks of time set aside for tutoring Mondays to Wednesdays were replaced with programs for teachers, such as professional learning, parent engagement, and assignments including committee and planning work. The tasks were part of a new teachers’ contract created by the DOE, which aimed to enhance professional development and improve contact with students’ guardians.

These scheduling changes have affected New York City students in different ways. Some students now have earlier start and end times to their school days. At BHSEC, the lost tutoring time has not been compensated for, which has prompted growing student concerns about the opportunity to receive additional academic help.

Some students have expressed unease about the now-limited time available to receive assistance afterschool. On the matter of receiving help from teachers, Fatima Elmansy, a Y2, commented, “It’s harder. They’re not as free anymore.” Previously-mandated tutoring has also been hindered, with teachers’ and students’ schedules coinciding less often, diminishing the opportunities struggling pupils have to obtain the help they need.

Still, despite the more limited afterschool tutoring hours, students have found that they are still able to receive help if they are persistent. Though not as free as in previous years, teachers remain available via email and face-to-face appointments, and the peer tutoring in the library has been an immense help in adjusting to the new schedule. Aryana Cordero, a ninth grader taking advantage of her teachers’ office hours, remarked, “Mr. Danquah was really helpful. He answered my questions and demonstrated how to do each problem clearly.”

Teachers have also voiced opinions about the new program. Similar to students, faculty members have shown concern about the displacement of potential instruction time. Dr. Freund stated, “The absence of tutoring is very problematic. It’s harder to require students who are struggling to come to tutoring.”

Positive responses to the meetings have appeared as well, such as comments pertaining to teachers having an allotted time for contacting parents and an opportunity for instructors to further their teaching capabilities. As a further effect of the meetings, long-term projects have been launched to benefit the school as a whole. “This is the compromise that had to be made between the union and the powers of BHSEC. The faculty is making the most of the situation,” Ms. Stemmer reported.

Though the scheduling change has had major effects on afterschool tutoring, alternatives for help remain available to the students. The Writing and Math Centers, located in the library, offer one-on-one assistance with an adult or with a peer. The Learning Center is free for students who seek help with essays, mathematics, or homework to use during lunch, free periods, and afterschool hours. Appointments with trained peer tutors can also be arranged; weekly schedules for tutoring sessions are posted in the library. Teachers can be reached during their designated office hours, which can be used to request extra academic help.

BHSEC continues to emphasize student-instructor relations as an integral part of the learning process. “Don’t assume that because the afterschool tutoring time is gone, there is no time for tutoring. If you need help, ask your teachers,” Dr. Freund encouraged. Though the change has rattled BHSEC, it is evident that students and teachers alike are adapting while maintaining their comfort within the community.

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