Friday, July 10, 2009
Why Michael Bloomberg Is Not The Education Mayor And Never Will Be.
Mayor Mike's media blitz that has reached 36 million dollars and trumpets him as the education Mayor. However, is Mayor Mike really the education Mayor? Let's look behind the media hype and investigate what Mayor Mike has really done to the News York City Public Schools.
Academics: Despite the media propaganda that student academic achievement has improved during his administration, the truth is far different. First, the baseline national tests, the NAEP and the SAT tests have shown little movement during the Bloomberg years. In fact, the SAT scores have shown a slight decline since Mayor Bloomberg took over the New York City Public Schools. The phony academic improvement came from the continuing "dumbing down" of the State tests and matrices which resulted in all school districts in the State showing equivalent improvements. Further, the alleged narrowing of the achievement gap between minorities and White/Asian students results from the "dumbing down" of the State tests that artificially raises level 1 students (well below average) to level 3 status (above average). I wrote a post about this issue previously. In fact a study down by a management consulting group showed how the Bloomberg Administration did not close the gap and can be found Here. Many high school teachers are shocked that the level 2 or 3 ninth graders are so lacking in academic skills that there is genuine concern of them making it to graduation without additional assistance. Of course that leads to the next issue.
Graduation Rates: Every year the high school graduation rates increase. However, under Bloomberg there is a question if the graduation rates are real. The DOE has pressured the High Schools to provide a "credit recovery program" to assist failing students. Since the DOE lacks transparency and Principals don't report how the "credit recovery program" affects the High School graduation rates. This has been brought up time and again by various bloggers and newspaper articles Here. The majority of high school graduates must take non-credit remedial courses and until significant improvement is made here, the high school graduation rates reported by the Bloomberg Administration will remain bogus. In addition, because Principals are under pressure to improve the school grades. Many Principals will pressure teachers and even change failing seniors grades to improve the school's graduation rate and improve their school's grade. You can find an article about how Principals use tactics that inflate the school's grades without actually improving the student academics.
Overcrowded Classrooms and Schools: One of the biggest failures by the Bloomberg Administration is the disgraceful conditions of many schools and classrooms. New York City has the largest class sizes in the State (Here) and it would be higher if not for the UFT contract that limits class sizes. However, many of the schools lack decent supplies or technology to help the classroom educate the students. An example of this is Francis Lewis High School which is extremely overcrowded and chapter leader Arthur Goldstein in his Daily News article described it best.
" My high school was built to hold 1,800 but enrolls 4,450 students. My kids sit in a crumbling trailer, with no technology and often no heat in the winter. So much for efficiency".
Despite the CFE lawsuit and extra State funds, the Bloomberg Administration has failed to reduce class sizes and in some cases actually raised it.
Quality Teachers: The Bloomberg Administration talks a good game when they claim they want quality teachers in the classroom. However, the reality is quite different. The City practices a policy called "education on the cheap" where inexpensive "newbie teachers" , many coming from an alternate certification program (Teach For America & Teaching Fellows) are hired over senior teachers (Here). Educators know that it takes between 3 to 5 years before a new teacher acquires enough experience to master classroom management and the curriculum to make him or her a quality teacher. However, under the Blommberg Administration the DOE is dominated by non-educators and they do not understand what it takes to be a quality teacher. In fact I posted an article how Bloomberg and Klein's idea of a quality teacher is far different than what educators think. Until educators are back in control of the DOE, look for the Bloomberg policy of "education on the cheap" to continue.
Lack of Parent, Student, and Teacher Input: Under the Bloomberg Administration, the only people who have input into the education process are the non-educators from Tweed. Mayoral Control has given Joel Klein complete control over education policy and given the Principals total control of their schools. Under the Bloomberg Administration the parents, students, and teachers have no voice in education and are ignored when they do speak out. Mayoral control has been a disaster for all three groups and some of the reasons are posted by me previously.
Money For the Schools: I can only laugh how one of the Bloomberg commercials claims he cut 350 million dollars of overhead and sent it to the schools. If that was true, then why is it that the schools are experiencing a 8.5% cut for the 2009-2010 school year? How come Tweed has not significantly cut its Central Bureaucracy? In fact, in some areas Tweed has seen an increase in personnel Here. How about the no-bid contracts that Tweed signs? Or the 81 million dollar waste of a computer program called AIRS? It seems Bloomberg didn't talk about that.
Wasting Money: The 1700 ATRS and 800 "rubber room" teachers account for almost 150 million dollars a year. Many of these teachers are "quality teachers" that disagreed with a vindictive and insecure Principal, had their school closed, given an unfair and biased investigation, or deemed incompetent simply because they didn't submit to the Principal's school tone. In the real world of education there would not be any ATRs and a maximum of 100 reassigned teachers (teachers subject to criminal action). However, this is the bizarro world of the DOE where non-educators waste precious funds in a mostly futile attempt to terminate teachers that should be teaching in the classroom. Here are some articles. Here, Here, and Here.
Age Discrimination: The Bloomberg Administration has backed Joel Klein in removing senior teachers to the "rubber room" . In the Queens reassignment Center over 50% of the teachers are 50 years of age and older while 85% of the teachers are over 40 years of age. Ageism? You bet it is !
Is Mayor Bloomberg the education Mayor? Only if you are a non-educator and believe in the City's "children last" and "education on the cheap" policies.
Note: To prove my point. If you want to know how much Mayor Mike disrespects and marginalizes the New York City Public School students just read this!