Maxine Crump, an English teacher at Cardozo High School, sat staring at one student and rows of empty desks Thursday morning. Crump said she wondered where the 35 students were who were supposed to be in her special 8 a.m. class to help students catch up on work they missed during the teachers' strike.
It was the first day of the extra classes at Cardozo and the empty desks in Crump's classroom is typical of what has happened to a program announced after the strike ended. School Superintendent Vincent E. Reed started the program in response to demands by parents that the school system give students extra hours in class to compensate for the time they were away from school because of the strike.
But the program of extra classes appears to be principally helping teachers recover wages they lost while on strike instead of helping students to learn lessons they missed while their teachers were walking picket lines.
There has been heated competition among teachers to get assigned to the extra classes, which carry a $12 per hour salary for teachers. Striking teachers lost, on the average, about $1,600 in salary during the strike. Several students interviewed at Cardozo said they were not interested in getting up an hour early to attend classes these warm spring days.
The classes are not open to all students who missed instruction because of the strike but are intended primarily for students who were on the verge of failing, particularly seniors who need to pass courses to graduate.
And the program, which Reed said would focus on basic academic skills that students may have missed during the strike, has been stretched by teachers in schools to include gym classes, shop classes and band instruction.
Students with passing grades who attended makeshift classes during the 17 school days of the teachers' strike and got little normal instruction cannot review the work they missed by joining the classes unless there is extra space in the classes and they get their homeroom teachers to recommend them for the courses.
As a result only a 19-year-old senior who was failing English was in Crump's class at Cardozo at 8 a.m. Thursday when instruction was to begin.
Later, seven other students showed up - about a half hour late for the 45-minute class.
At many other high schools that were surveyed on Friday programs were not in operation and teachers were trying to determine what would be taught in the classes that Reed said would be held for one hour before school starts and for an hour after the regular school day ends.
At Cardozo, Principal Waverly Jones said, "We aren't trying to make up the work we missed during the strike. That's just not possible, it's not practical for a number of reasons. . . . What we are doing is trying to help students who were behind before the strike . . . who are about to fail their classes."
"I wouldn't think we'll ever catch up on what was missed during the strike," Jones said. "To catch up we sould have to work with the entire student body and the supplementary program is not for the entire student body. In every class there is some material that the children will simply not be exposed to."
"We finished chapter 7 just before the strke," said Samuel Henderson, a geometry teacher at Cardozo. "We would have done chapters 8, 9, and 10 during the strike, that's circles, introduction to logic and similar polygons, but now the students will have to do it on their own if they are going to know abotu those things.
R. Calvin Lockridge, school board member from Ward 8, said he is out-raged that the extra classes include gym, shop and band classes.
classes. This is a joke being played on the children of this city."
Ronald Webb, executive assistant to the superintendent, said the classes in gym and other nonacademic areas are not priority classes in the program but can be included because they are full-credit classes that can help a student to meet graduation requirements.
School Superintendent Reed had said the classes would begin last Monday. On Friday most schools in the City did not have a full program.
"I don't mean to sound defensive," Reed said; but we had two days off during the Easter holidays and we couldn't work with students and teachers to get the program started. It takes time to organize these things and we are trying to get this one going on very short notice."