Tuesday, January 20, 2009
Why The NYC Public Schools Will Continue To Fail As Long As Joel Klein & His Non-Educators At Tweed Are In Charge
I am truly sick of reading those subway signs that say that the NYC schools are improving when the truth is otherwise, Under Chancellor Klein's rule it has become increasingly difficult to effectively teach in the classroom and much needed money is used for a bloated overhead, a failed computer system, and the flavor of the day Charter/small schools. Under our anti-teacher Chancellor and his non-educator minions at Tweed all the alleged academic advances are based upon "smoke and mirrors". When the data is scrutinized, it is obvious that these phony academic advances are based upon dumbed-down New York State tests, restricting learning of other subjects outside of Math & English, and continuous test preparation. Even then there is still no academic improvement according to the national NAEP and SAT tests. Let's look at why I believe under Joel Klein there will be no improvement in real academic achievement in the New York City Schools.
Recruitment over Retention of Teachers: It is a well known fact that Joel Klein has encouraged schools to hire "newbie teachers" and uses the "fair student funding" formula to limit Principals in hiring experienced and highly paid teachers. Many of the small and Charter scho0ls are known to have staff that is almost entirely staffed by first and second year teachers.
The learning curve for these teachers are steep and combined with classroom management and curriculum problems make these teachers ineffective. Further, according to statistics less than 50% of the teachers will be in the New York City school system by their fifth year. Combined with the alternate certification programs such as "Teach for America" and "Teaching Fellows", many of these teachers are clueless in the classroom and the result is a poor student learning environment.
Leadership Academy Principals: Gone are the days when many Principals rose through the ranks from senior teacher, to become an Assistant Principal, and finally as a well-respected Principal. Now many of the Principals have little or no classroom experience and fail to understand what it is like in the classroom. These Principals cannot or will not work collaboratively with their teaching staff and with the Principal now having total control of their schools, it is run more as a dictatorship than as a smooth working relationship that improves both student and teacher morale.
Workshop Model and other One-Size-Fits-All Programs: Once the classroom was the teacher's domain. Only the teacher could decide the best way to reach her students academically. Now Treed treats the students as widgets and the teachers as cogs as if the schools are an assembly line. Many experienced teachers are forced to follow these wasteful and unimaginative programs under threat of insubordination or incompetence charges.
Large Class Size Problems: The New York City Schools have the largest class sizes in the State and despite winning a lawsuit to reduce class size. Klein has used the budget crises to ignore the court order. Rather than reduce class size, Tweed has continued to waste money on the $81 million dollar AIRS system that still doesn't work right, increased his accountability staff, and added more lawyers to file 3020-a charges to terminate teachers for alleged incompetence. An example of this is the $1 million dollar plus Teacher Performance Unit.
Small & Charter Schools: The start up costs for these schools wastes precious money when the school system is desperately short of funds to retain their existing programs and staff. In the long run most of these schools are destined to fail once the excluded students (ESL, Special Ed, and level one discipline problems) are required to be accepted by the school. These schools already experience high teacher turnover and lack experienced teachers with good classroom management skills.
Phony Graduation Rates: The DOE high school graduation rates do not reflect the real graduation rate. The DOE graduate includes the "credit recovery system" that allows students who fail to go to classes to give a couple of essays for a passing grade. Furthermore, today's Principals have changed many a failing grade to passing without the teacher's permission or knowledge to increase the school's graduation rate. Finally, these very same Principals pressure the teacher in giving a failing senior a passing grade to get the student out of the school.
Lack of Transparency at The DOE: It is well known that the DOE lacks transparency and accepts no input from parents, students, or teachers in their decision making. This lack of transparency allows the non-educators at Tweed to decide which of their pet programs can be pushed onto the schools and it does not matter that these programs don't help the students academically and costs the school much needed funds.
Poor Teacher Morale: Under Chancellor Joel Klein teacher morale is at an all time low with the Chancellor's Regulations restricting the disciplining of students while allowing student accusations to cause the removal and possible termination of the teacher. Further, the increase in paperwork allows the classroom teacher with little time to work on new and innovative ideas, even if they were allowed. Finally, the lack of a grievance threat allows the administrators to write as many Letters-To-The-File (LIF) without consequences.
Obama or no Obama, with Chancellor Joel Klein in charge, don't look for any improvement in improving the academics in the New York City Public School system.
Children Last continues......