Sunday, March 29, 2009

The Lies That Bloomberg & Klein Claim About Academic Achievement

Now that we are coming down to the home stretch on the State's decision on mayoral control. The daily newspapers are advocating the continued dominance of mayoral control. The newspapers claim that under Bloomberg & Klein the schools have shown academic improvements, increased graduation rates, school choice, and a streamlined administration. However, the truth is something far different than what Kleinberg and the daily newspapers claim.

First, lets look at Kleinberg's claim of academic improvements. According to the federal NAEP tests there has been little, if any progress, in improving academic achievement. Dumbing down the State tests has resulted in all the State's school districts showing academic progress. Making the State tests easier is not real academic improvement and until the national numbers improve, the New York City public schools under Kleinberg has shown academic stagnation not improvement.

Second, the so-called improved graduation rates could be based upon the New York State discredited "credit recovery system" . Many high schools use this program to improve not only their graduation rates but school grade as well. For readers who don't understand the "credit recovery system" it allows students who failed to show up to their classes to participate in a three day workshop on the subject outside school hours. James Eterno writes about Jamaica High School's "credit recovery system" and the consequences to all the school's students who follow the rules. I previously wrote about the "credit recovery system" and you can see my article Here. Even the new head of the Regents, Merryl Tisch has expressed her disapproval oi the "credit recovery system" along with the testing scores Here. Despite the New York State's disapproval of the "credit recovery system, no action has been taken to stop it and the DOE uses this discredited program to artificially improve high school graduation rates.

Third, it is true that many students have more school choice. However, it comes with many strings and it is rigged for the smarter student with involved parents. For example the small/charter schools have a much lower percentage of "special education" and ELA children. In fact, the DOE exempted the newly created small schools from these students for the first two years and looked the other way when these small schools continued this policy of discouraging these students from applying to the school citing inadequate resources. Further, the small/charter schools also practices the exclusion of the level one student who may have disciplinary or attendance problems and the "not ready for promotion" students. More importantly, is the reduction in resources to the public schools as money and the better students are picked off by the charter schools, aided and abetted by both the DOE and the UFT. The daily newspapers and the DOE always compare the charter schools with the neighborhood public schools. However, this is an unfair comparison since the charter schools reaches out to the involved parent and hence, the better student. These charter schools should be compared to the specialized public schools that attract the same type of students. It is a wonder that any charter schools fail but they do and that usually is caused by high teacher turnover and administrative incompetence.

Fourth, the lack of educators at the top level of Tweed. Of the 18 members of Klein's inner circle, only 2 are educators. Furthermore, the disconnect between the policy makers at Tweed with the schools have resulted in the use of a "on-size-fits-all" workshop model and with classroom teacher dissatisfaction. Moreover, the poor allocation of precious resources into non-academic programs like AIRS, the accountability project, and the Teacher Performance Unit has resulted in less money for the schools and student services.

Finally, under Kleinberg the only voice that counts is the Principal's. There is no parental or teacher involvement in school policy and the Principal can do what he/she likes when it comes to budget, services, and hiring. No input is considered and all decisions are entirely up to the Principal. This has resulted in very few ATRs being hired for the classroom. This is about control and power by the Principal not what is good for the students of the school. The ongoing problems at IS #8 in Jamaica is an example on how the DOE closes their eyes on alleged abuses by a Principal.

There must be checks and balances in the school system and educators must be put back into control of the New York City Public Schools. No other outcome is acceptable.


Mike said...

How true. Also, unbelievably Randi Weingarten opposes a requirement that future Chancellors have a background in education!

Chaz said...

Randi is really at fault for allowing both mayoral control and a non-educator as a Chancellor.