February 23, 2014 | 4:01am
These kids should learn write from wrong.
Earlier this month, The Post exposed a scheme at Manhattan’s Murry Bergtraum HS for Business Careers in which failing students could get full credit without attending class, but instead watch video lessons and take tests online. One social-studies teacher had a roster of 475 students in all grades and subjects.
Red-faced administrators encouraged a student letter-writing campaign to attack The Post and defend its “blended learning” program. Eighteen kids e-mailed to argue that their alma mater got a bad rap.
Almost every letter was filled with spelling, grammar and punctuation errors.
A junior wrote: “What do you get of giving false accusations im one of the students that has blended learning I had a course of English and I passed and and it helped a lot you’re a reported your support to get truth information other than starting rumors . . .”
Another wrote: “To deeply criticize a program that has helped many students especially seniors to graduate I should not see no complaints.”
One student said the online system beats the classroom because “you can digest in the information at your own paste.”
“Us as New York City Students deserve respect and encouragement,” one letter read. “We are the future of New York City and for some students, The future of the country.”
A Murry Bergtraum teacher said, “I am embarrassed that the school will graduate students who write this poorly.”
Two blocks from City Hall, Murry Bergtraum, graded “F” by the Department of Education, had a dismal 51.2 percent graduation rate last year. Hundreds of students are over-age and behind schedule.
The “blended learning” program, started last year, helps them load up on credits quickly.
The DOE said 444 students are taking “one or two” such courses, but The Post found that some take up to eight at a time.
The program may violate state rules requiring “substantive interaction” between the student and a teacher certified in the subject.
The school lacks enough teachers to satisfy those needs, but does boast a staffer who specializes in public relations.
Murry Bergtraum High SchoolPhoto: J.C. Rice
The school’s $52,332-a-year “community coordinator,” Kian Brown — also a private “branding” consultant — encouraged kids to write letters to The Post praising Principal Lottie Almonte and her program. Copies went to Chancellor Carmen Fariña.
Some students defended the lack of reading material and live teachers. “After many years of learning with textbooks in every class, some students eventually get restless with that same learning strategy,” one wrote.
Another argued, “It it wasn’t for blended learning course, some of us we wouldn’t be learning at all.”
A junior wrote that the program “made it less challenging and more understandable. We watched a video, answer a few questions, and took an online quiz/test. It was simple, and reasonable.” This helped him score 85 in chemistry, he said.
But professors at CUNY — where nearly 80 percent of New York City grads who attend must take remedial classes in math, reading or writing — said online instruction often leaves students ill-prepared.
“These kids feel strongly, but unfortunately they’re not making a good case about the success of their school,” said Jessica Siegel, a former city high-school teacher celebrated in the book “Small Victories.” She now teaches journalism and the teaching of writing at Brooklyn College.
Failing kids “need more intensive work instead of sitting in front of a video,” Siegel said. “They need a good teacher to get at what they don’t understand, and to work in small classes so they get more attention.”
Brooklyn College education professor David Bloomfield noted how many letters emphasized passing more than proficiency.
In one e-mail, a student argued the easy credits were necessary because “we need to move on with our lives.”
“That’s exactly the problem with credit recovery and other academic shortcuts,” Bloomfield said.