KAZ: November 2007 Archives

Gang Violence Up; Last High School Demolished


TOMPKINS - A state police report confirmed what residents of the area had long suspected; the incidence of gang violence, break-ins, and stolen vehicles is up 25 percent over the last decade, following the closing of all local high schools and their replacement by e-schools.

"We used to call the schools 'babysitters,' and now I know that was true," said Tompkins County Chief Luis Valeria in a SAT-interview. "At least we haven't given up on babysitting the littler kids, or we'd have a real mess on our hands."

E-schools were originally planned to mesh with internship programs to enable students to work at their own pace from home while learning a trade or profession. However, the internship programs were unable to keep pace with students' desires to learn cosmetology rather than, say, cosmology, and higher-level internships went without interns while students in lower-level internships found that no jobs awaited them on graduation.

In addition, e-schools proved a failure at instructing students in the foreign languages needed to obtain professional jobs. Hindi and Urdu were popular, but most students were unable to complete the difficult courses, and although thousands of students took Mandarin as their first language, regional dialects were apparently impossible to master without face-to-face contact and practice.

The result has been teenagers who are left alone all day with no place to go, in theory working electronically to complete coursework, but in reality roaming the towns in pairs, small groups, or gangs.

In a related story, former principal Varushka Knight was among the spectators as the wrecking ball hit Dryden High School, the last high school standing in the region. Because the building once also housed middle school students, it was spared when many other high schools were demolished. However, by 2048, decreases in rural population made it possible to move all middle school students into the new Central Dryden Elementary/Middle School.

Like all school districts, Dryden had long since stopped spending money on facilities for high school. "We saw the handwriting on the wall back in the late '20s," said Knight. "That's why the building was in such bad condition that it was ultimately condemned, luckily not until right after we made the move to CDEMS."

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