[Marxism] An unruly Latino student

Louis Proyect lnp3 at panix.com
Sun Jul 25 06:52:55 MDT 2004

NY Times, July 25, 2004
Last Chance High

What was remarkable about the last day of the year at Community Prep, 
New York City's first public high school for students who have been 
recently released from juvenile prisons and jails, was that 27 students 
- a little more than a third of the roster - stayed around for the final 

Gathered in the basement of the school, which occupies three floors of a 
nondescript office building on East 29th Street, the students whooped 
and clapped as awards were handed out: Carlos Negron III, most 
politically conscious, improvement in math. Jose Fernandez, best 
storyteller. Charles Wyatt, best attendance and improvement in math.

Clutching his certificates, Charles, a tall, broad-shouldered 
17-year-old, said softly that his grandmother would be happy.

Charles and his classmates had returned to their neighborhoods after 
serving time for offenses ranging from assault to drug possession, only 
to find that the city's other high schools did not want them. Community 
Prep, a two-year-old transitional school offering preparation for 
regular high schools or G.E.D. programs, was their last chance.

It had been an intense, frustrating, rewarding, exhausting year. The 
students started off testing the staff in every way they could think of. 
Attendance was poor. The principal, Mark Ryan, was delighted the day 10 
students arrived on time. When a class trip to the Magic Johnson movie 
theater in Harlem was planned, only one student showed up. Students 
walked out of the building whenever they felt like it.

One troublemaker was Carlos, 17, who, when he bothered coming to school, 
would roam the hallway, ranting at the staff that they were "bourgeois" 
or "right-wing conservatives." (It was better than some unprintable 
names that were being thrown at them, said Nedda de Castro, the school's 
social worker.)


The first year at Community Prep, which opened in downtown Brooklyn in 
the fall of 2002, was rocky. Teachers, who offered more support than 
structure, were overwhelmed.

"They messed up," Carlos Negron said. "They tried to be our friends."

On one occasion, Carlos locked himself in a classroom for two hours to 
protest the lack of a science teacher, emerging only when the police 
arrived. "I wasn't gaining any credits for science," explained Carlos, 
who had been dipping into "The Autobiography of Malcolm X."

full: http://www.nytimes.com/2004/07/25/education/25school.html

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