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28464: Hermantin ( News)Miami Edison's failures stir fears about the future (fwd)

From: leonie hermantin <lhermantin@hotmail.com>

Posted on Thu, Jun. 15, 2006

Miami Edison's failures stir fears about the future
Failure has once again stained Edison Senior High, whose walls have housed a community.
Poverty, racism, language -- all have have been dubbed barriers to success at Edison Senior High, cast as the causes for the school's lack of achievement.

But whatever the reason, the saga continues: Edison has failed. Again.

The school received an F for the fifth consecutive year, making it only the second Florida school, alongside Orange County's Jones High School, to do so.

Principal Jean Teal did not return calls Wednesday.

Advocates say the school is saddled with unique social and cultural hurdles that raise questions about the fairness and effectiveness of the Florida Comprehensive Assessment Test.

For example, James Carlos migrated from Haiti in 2003, and found his first year at Edison difficult.

''I couldn't really understand the language,'' said the 10th grader. He was placed in English-as-a-second-language classes. ``The next year I did better. . . . My grades went up.''


For kids like James, officials hope a program called New Beginnings will foster cultural immersion, which they call critical to students' success. Under the program, which is being overhauled for the new school year, newly arrived teens are assigned to intensive reading and language classes with extra counseling services.

''We want to further the program by possibly assigning teachers with individual students,'' said Gepsie Metellus, chair of Edison Senior High's School-Based Accountability Board and a candidate for School Board.

While only 7 percent of the students have met reading proficiency standards, about 29 percent meet math standards, district records show.

This year, the school scored 274 points under the complex scoring system, just six shy of earning a D.

Superintendent Rudy Crew has plans to improve the school, converting its curriculum to career-themed academies. On Wednesday, he said he would shut down any struggling school.

Despite the assurances, the perennial failing scores still give rise to fears among some in Little Haiti that time may be running out on Edison, a place that's rooted in the soul of the community.

In the 1970s, newly arriving Haitian immigrants were offered English classes at Edison, located at 6161 NW Fifth Ct. The school became a conduit to the American mainstream for many.


''Shutting down the school would be devastating,'' said Father Reginald Jean-Mary of Notre Dame d' Haiti Catholic Church. ''It represents a sociocultural center in the community.'' Father Jean-Mary believes educators obsessed with the FCAT aren't addressing the socioeconomic factors affecting the lives of students.

''Many of the families juggle two and three jobs,'' he said.

If the string of Fs reflect a broken past, Autrell Reid speaks of a bright future, possibly beginning at the University of Texas in the fall.

''I wouldn't trade my experience at Edison for anything,'' said Reid, who recently graduated.

``The F rating is for people hung up on image . . . We know we're smart students.''