Scholars at Benjamin Cardozo High School are up in arms over an apparent $400,000 slash to programs cutting into the school’s Advanced Placement courses.
“I think it’s ridiculous,” said senior Student Organization President Tom Dinegar. “We should not have to settle for less.”
Students and local leaders said internal bookkeeping errors by the city’s Department of Education (DOE) caused the deep cuts to gym periods and double-period AP science and math classes.
“DOE made an error, and now thousands of students are left in the lurch in the middle of the school year,” said Councilmember Mark Weprin. “By cutting funds to the school, DOE is unfairly punishing the students for its own mistakes.”
Nearly 300 students packed the athletic field on October 2 to protest the changes. They chanted behind the fence and waved signs that read “Save Our School.”
“These are the classes that make Cardozo what it is,” Dinegar said. “It’s definitely going to affect grades on AP exams, and we’re not a failing school.”
The change in course offerings was due to “an unforeseen decrease in projected student enrollment” of 15 students, according to the DOE and a letter Principal Gerald Martori sent to parents this week.
Martori said second period classes in double periods “will be conducted in a blended learning model” and will be “devoted to student research, problem solving and portfolio development.”
Without a teacher behind the helm, students say that essentially means a free period to study independently. But the rigorous college-level courses, they say, require back-to-back 45 minute instructions from a qualified teacher.
“We’ll have less time to learn review material and have a hard time passing the test,” said junior Hannah Oh. “It’s already hard with two period classes.”
Some gym classes were also decreased to two to three days a week, according to the letter. The changes went into effect this week.
DOE spokesperson Marcus Liem said Cardozo will be able to maintain its AP courses. He also said there were no budget cuts to the 2014 school year and no enrollment error.
“School budgets fluctuate annually based on the number of registered students,” he said. “We are working closely with Principal Martori to make sure that the school’s programming is aligned with their budget and continues to focus on providing rigorous courses to prepare our students for college and careers.”
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