According to InsideSchools.org, the following statistics are an accurate depiction of the state of Bed-Stuy’s Boys and Girls High School:
Graduation Rate: 38.6%
Graduation Rate Six Years: 55.9%
English Language Learners: 2.4%
Special Education: 20.5%
College Ready: 3%
College Enrollment: 30%
NYC Board of Education “Overall Progress Report” Grade: F
Why is this school underachieving on such a colossal level? How is a school like Brooklyn Tech, with more than three times the student body of B&G, performing on a much higher level?
On the night of the Boys and Girls v Thomas Jefferson game, I was lucky enough to run into the Boys and Girls’ Athletic Director, Christopher Smith, who vividly shed light on why the school is suffering in such a cataclysmic fashion.
Here’s the skinny: Christopher instructed the security at Boys and Girls not to let anyone (who wished to attend the game) into the school after the JV game started. That means in order to watch the Varsity game, you would have had to sit through the entire preceding JV game. If anyone asked to go in, the security was to tell them that the gym was at capacity and they should’ve attended the JV game first.
No joke. One of the female security guards actually told me that with a straight face.
Naturally, there was a crowd of about 30-40 at the door who were inquiring about entry into the game, most who would soon find out that they were inquiring in vain. I could have easily dropped a name or two to go in but after scanning the crowd and noticing how many irate ‘mature’ people were outside, I wanted to find out who they were.
I fell back away from the door and asked a woman with a young child if the ‘watch-the-JV-game-first’ policy was a normal prerequisite to watch a Varsity game at B&G. Her response to me was, “They’re always doing something crazy at this school. My ——– child is playing- how can they tell me I can’t come in and watch this game??”
It didn’t take much more detective work to find out that a handful of parents were standing outside and couldn’t get in to see their children play.
Boys and Girls High School was denying parents entry into the game.
This was my first high school game of the year and the first time I’ve been back at Boys and Girls High School in at least two years, so I immediately thought, “wow! It must really be packed in there if they’re not even letting parents in!”
Unfortunately, the reality was quite the contrary. During the time I was standing there, I noticed that they were letting certain people in- some older, some students, some who, quite frankly, just looked like they couldn’t have been there for any other reason than to watch the game. However, I wasn’t 100% sure why they were there so I wasn’t confident enough to question them about letting those people in.
…That was until I saw Ron Naclerio being ushered into the building. Naclerio is a great high school coach so he was probably doing what he was supposed to do- scouting the teams. Scouting or not, how can they let him in and not parents??
I decided to venture my way back to the door to find out exactly what was going on. Here’s how the conversation went:
Me: Exactly who are you letting into the game? You know there are parents of some of the players out here, right?
Security Guard: No one. Absolutely no one is allowed in. If people come out, then we can let people in. The gym is filled to capacity and it’s a fire hazard if we do.
Me: So why did you just let that white guy in?
SG: He isn’t here for the game, he is here for a different program.
Me: No, I’m talking about the white guy that you just let in.
SG: I know who you’re talking about and I’m telling you that he is here for a different program.
Me: Coach Ron Naclerio? You’re telling me that the Head coach of Benjamin Cardozo’s Mens High School Basketball Team is NOT here for the game?
SG: I have to close this door.
This whole ordeal just got 1000 times more interesting to me. Were they giving out free bags of money?? What was so good about this game that they had to resort to LYING to get certain people in? I needed to speak to someone who was in charge because the security guards were either: (1) just repeating/doing exactly everything they were told, or (2) none of them had a brain or common sense.
This is when the self-proclaimed “highest authority”, Christopher Smith, exited the building to give his speech to the crowd.
“I’m sorry but we can not let anyone else in the building- it doesn’t matter who you are. The people who are inside were here since the JV game and they’re not leaving. If we let more people into the gym, it will be a fire hazard and the fire marshall will shut the entire game down. Do you want that that to happen? If people start to leave we will be able to get you guys in. Right now, it’s not going to happen.”
Perfect. I haven’t seen this guy yet so he must be a supervisor or something. I mosey back over to the door to speak to him:
Other person who’s standing by the door: …it’s not about a fire hazard! They let some people in already who just walked up and walked in!
Christopher Smith: Well I wasn’t up here, I didn’t see that happen. Absolutely no one else can go into that gym. It doesn’t matter who you are- it’s at capacity! The only person I’m letting in is the fire marshall.
Me: I already know a few people inside and they told me there’s a whole row of seats directly in front of them that they’re saving. How can it be at capacity if there are empty seats?
CS: People are standing up too. There are people standing up all over the gym.
Me: Ok…but there are empty seats as well. Did you know that a few parents of some of the athletes are out-
CS: – I can’t let anyone else in. Doesn’t matter who they are. No one can get in.
Me: Ok. What is your name, sir?
CS: It’s Christopher Smith. I’m the athletic director, I’m the highest authority.
Really? Highest authority? Aren’t you something special? It took every ounce of energy in body not to laugh in his face after he called himself the highest authority.
After thinking about it, he must really revel in the fact that he is in charge of something- even if it is just the door at a high school basketball game. Perhaps he thinks it makes sense to manage the door of a high school basketball game like it’s a NYC nightclub. I don’t see the logic and I have common sense so I have absolutely no idea why they would let some people in and leave the parents outside.
Imagine the expression on everyone’s face when big Christopher stepped to the side to let a News 12 cameraman into the game. Does his entry not violate the fire hazard policy?
Finally, how does this all tie into the school’s overall performance (or lack thereof)? When the school’s leaders are so dense to the point where they forfeit all common sense and logic, the students have absolutely no hope or chance to succeed.
Dense leaders/teachers begets dense students.
People like Christopher Smith are the wrong people to have leading the students because how can they teach them to think when they lack that very skill?
It’s also a bad idea to treat people like they’re idiots. Everyone out there, students included, could see that they were blatantly letting people in to see the game yet telling us that none of those folks were going to the game. Don’t the “highest authorities” realize that by lying and trying to get over on people, they’re teaching the students that same adverse behavior?
If the leaders act like con men, the students will act like con men.
As I said earlier, this was my first Boys and Girls game in years. I’m not sure if my experience was an indication of how they run things at that school but evidently it can’t be much better because it’s a failing school.
These kids are told not to look to rappers, athletes or other celebrities as role models; they are told to look to teachers…well who do they look to when the teachers and school leaders are inadequate?
Hopefully writing this will be a catalyst that sparks a change at Boys and Girls high school. The students deserve leaders who are role models not swindlers collecting checks.