Saturday, September 20, 2014

Don't Expect NYC Schools To Improve Academically Under The DOE's Present Policy.



With much fanfare and little scrutiny,  Mayor Bill de Blasio and Chancellor Carmen Farina praised the miniscule increases the City students achieved on the 2013 State tests and have proclaimed that 100% of the NYC school children will be passing the State tests.  However, when one takes into account the lower cut scores and the large "opt out" cohort, any real academic progress is simply "smoke and mirrors".  The politicians can crow all they want about imaginary academic gains but the truth is that these supposed gains are illusionary.  Moreover, the unacceptably wide racial/income academic achievement gap has not improved and this is shown by the analysis done for the 4th grade citywide.  According to the report, the top schools are predominately made up of students that come from the surrounding diverse middle class neighborhoods or are screened, while the worst preforming schools are in neighborhoods of deep poverty and nearly 100% Black and Hispanic.

The question is how can we improve the academic ability of the New York City school students?  There are ways.  However, the new Mayor and his disappointing Chancellor has done little to take strides in that direction.  For example, despite the Mayor's pledge to reduce class size, the opposite happened, class sizes have actually increased once again for the elementary and middle schools. Numerous studies have shown that class size has a significant effect on classroom learning and the City has the largest class sizes in New York State.  Until class size is reduced significantly, don't expect any academic improvement.

Another issue, is the lack of "quality teachers" in the classroom.  The new administration has continued the destructive "fair student funding" policy that encourages principals to hire the "cheapest" and not the "best teachers" for their schools.  Since 50% of these teachers will leave the profession in five years and over 80% from the school they started at, few will ever become a "quality teacher" for the school that hired them.  Moreover, the steep learning curve "newbie teachers" experience makes their students guinea pigs until the teacher has demonstrated good pedagogy skills and gets tenure three years later, if their the lucky 60%.  A seven year study showed how difficult it was for struggling schools to attract effective teachers.  Even the offer of $20,000 extra for a two year commitment met with few takers.  How does the DOE expect to attract teachers to struggling schools for a measly $5,000?  The answer is they don't.  Combined with a hostile and stressful classroom environment, is it any wonder that retention is a problem?  High teacher turnover and poor academic achievement in these struggling schools go hand in hand.


Shockingly, Chancellor Carmen Farina froze already tight school budgets at 2013 levels and that is 14% less than in the 2007-08 school year.  She unwisely kept the money sucking and useless "Children First Networks" and worst of all, the Chancellor has made the demonetization of the 2,000+ ATRs part of the new contract, meaning that the DOE will waste money and talent by having high priced "babysitters" rotating weekly from school to school.

Finally, under the new Chancellor, the failed policies of the Bloomberg Administration are still evident and many of his architects are still in control of Tweed.  Rather than "clean house" she has kept many of them in place and the classroom environment is still as hostile as ever with loads of paperwork, Leadership Academy Principals" and inadequate school resources a norm.

What needs to change to make real academic progress?  Lower class sizes, the elimination of "fair student funding" with all staff salaries coming out of DOE Central like it used to be. Downsizing and folding the Children First Networks into the Superintendent's Office, with the savings going back to the schools for resources and the placing of ATRs back into the classroom with the 160 million dollar annual savings being used for hiring of more teachers which will lower the average class sizes, especially in deep poverty neighborhood schools.

Mark my words, without the usual academic tricks any real academic progress will be illusionary and will; not result in the narrowing of the racial/income academic achievement gap.

20 comments:

Reggie Jackson said...

Chaz you didn't say to clean house of Academy principals in your list of how to make academic change. Would eliminating the CFN do that automaticay because then the principal playing school would be accountable to their superintendents?

Anonymous said...

Any thinking person has to come to the conclusion that the DOE is not concerned with education- but focused on giving the appearance of being concerned. (The UFT has learned alot from them.) The only reason they even do that is because education is a mandated right. If it were a privilege, and not a parody, there could be real education again.

Anonymous said...

Chaz,
Meet Principal Quintana of Bronxdale High School located on the Christopher Columbus High School Campus in the Bronx. This pathetic principal is the exact type of individual that the DOE has created. A total mess of a principal with school scores that would make you vomit. In its first graduating class year (school opened in September of 2011), we will see less than 50% graduating come this June. Another disaster! Ms. Quintana has been reported for accepting cash for parking spaces in the small parking lot at the school. Mysteriously her secretary and assistant principals were given spaces. It was leaked that each have her $500 per parking space and an investigation is underway. You can't make this up!

ReadyToRetireNow said...

Funny...our network group finally showed up last fall to ask us questions and "address" any concerns we had about how they can help us more. We responded with a resounding, "Where were you to begin with"? With a new mayor and chancellor, these parasites hustled their posteriors to try and save their cushy jobs. Since Farina has retained them, they haven't shown their faces since.

Anonymous said...

The solution is very simple. It has nothing to do with teachers, administrators, unions, cfn's, chancellors or contracts. It comes down to one thing. Good parenting. Until the city holds parents responsible for their children then our education system is doomed. It is not a shocked that african american students have the highest rate of absences and lateness. It is not a shock that minority students have the highest rate of suspensions.

I do not want to hear about socio-economical issues. There is a huge population of bengali students in my school community. They succeed in spite of their poverty because of the high expectations they put on their students and prioritize education.

If you want to place blame and start change then find a way to support homes and then hold them accountable.

Anonymous said...

11:32, good on you! This is what I have saying for years on end. You can supply beautiful classrooms, exciting textbooks, the latest electronic paraphernalia, a motivated and knowledgeable teacher and still have dismal passing stats. How? If the students cut class or form a never-ending parade of late arrivals into class, disrupting it for the entire period, they not only cut their chances of passing, but those of the entire class they perpetually disturb with their late arrivals. If the students have such little respect for education that they continually play with their cell phones, talk to other students, put their heads down on the desk, or just walk out the door, they have a significant chance of failing as well. If they decide to play video games or run around in the streets until the wee hours of the morning instead of studying, doing homework or completing projects, they are also setting themselves up to fail.

As ATRs, we see the worst of these behaviors. It is quite typical at schools in certain neighborhoods for a large proportion of the class to simply run out the classroom door into the halls when they see "a sub". Or to throw their handouts onto the floor or make paper wads of them. Or tell the ATR "I don't have to listen to you, you're not a teacher" or similar nonsense. Or to vandalize the classroom while you tell them to stop. That they cannot, for 45 lousy minutes, show the slightest modicum of courtesy or maturity, cannot cope with change (a different teacher), think of others, speaks VOLUMES of the indifferent "parenting" they received. They are barely socialized at all. They are ignorant of social mores. They have virtually non-existent impulse control. They do not have any clearly defined professional career plans. No WONDER they have high rates of suspensions and failure.

But of course, it's the TEACHER'S FAULT!

Unless the PARENTS, such as they are, spend some time raising their children, not just spawning them, there will continue to be these dismal failure rates, countless dollars wasted on special remedial programs and computers and review software, and of course, the blaming finger pointed squarely at the TEACHER.

Bronx ATR said...

How do you get someone to be a good parent? NYC schools have taken on that responsibility via default. They have also taken on every other facet of parenting, other than having the students live in the school. (I've been in schools that have dentist, eye labs and medical offices.) Most teachers want to be teachers - not parents, social workers, waiters, condom dispensers, or generalized scape goats.

Anonymous said...

my exact words!!!!!! couldn't have said it better myself. campus magnet, august martin and we know all the rest. bad parents equal bad students. simple math that even our mayor should understand.

Anonymous said...

Im off topic here but I just looked on payroll portal and my 9/30 check is the same as my last one no retro no raise anyone else see this or know what's up?

Anonymous said...

As a principal in the south bronx for the past 5 yrs (no chaz, im not from the academy) I have become more and more dishearten by what i see from our system

I agree with 11:32 in that parents have now used our schools as a cheap day care center. In addition it has become near impossible for any leader to make a difference. With a staff of 40 we are expected to form 20 different committees where each staff member on averages is on two of them. This takes away from education.

In addition I have safety meetings, brt meetings, network meetings, superintendent meetings, pd meetings, etc. when are leaders given a chance to make a difference?

When are parents held accountable for sending their student to school half the time and then pick them up when they please?

Anonymous said...

To 5:08

How do you make them a good parent? You tie their food stamps and disability and all the other bs funding they get to their students attendance and behavior. Watch how fast these parents get on their children and their education

Anonymous said...

Any person on govt. assistance must sign a contract which states that any pregnancies after the second birth must be aborted . Simple-end of story.

There is no excuse for the poor behavior . It can't all be blamed on poverty. Why? Brand new immigrants value education, and are willing partners. They are mostly orderly and positive about being in school here. Not urban terrorists.

Anonymous said...

To 9:47 pm: My thoughts EXACTLY. Not only their attendance and behavior, but their GRADES. If their attendance, behavior, and grades are not passing level, the welfare benefits of every ilk get CUT. Oh yeah.

Unless the students strive in their studies, that's exactly where THEY will find themselves eventually: sucking up every welfare benefit and contributing nothing in return, except some more dependents. End the cycle now.

Anonymous said...

I'm an ATR and after an annoying day I feel a lot better now reading some of these comments.

There needs to be more accountability on the part of administration, but the focus should really be on bridging the divide between teachers and administration. The no nonsense (but full of it), bully principal who pushes people around, hides in their office and shows up in classrooms when people speak up crap has to end. We need more quality principals and APs along with quality teaching. Only then, maybe, MAYBE, it will work.

Yes to parenting and everything else, true.

Anonymous said...

America is too liberal and thats why entitlement is the name of the game ,,parents teach their kids you are entitled ..Entitled to everything..they teach them U have rights and then they leave the public schools at somewhere near 20 years of age and reality sets in...what are we teaching them???????????

Anonymous said...

The poor kids have several pairs of $250 sneakers and the latest IPhones. Some days half the class does not have a pencil. Respect is a one way street. My school is holding a required meeting on Yom Kippur. Nobody gives a shit about me and my culture. Yet I am continually required to honor their culture. Thanks for telling the truth guys. I really appreciate it.

Anonymous said...

I always laugh when I hear people say "America is becoming socialist". We've been socialist for decades. However, in this area,public education and welfare-to the worst possible outcome. Millions of users who expect, and demand cradle to grave benefits-all with a snarl.

ReadyToRetireNow said...

Anon 6:41 " all with a snarl"...Lol, I couldn't have said it any better! The even funnier thing is that we are being taxed to pay for their benefits as well as having to teach, feed and endure their shenanigans.

Anonymous said...

out on the rock kids are very disrespectful. they can't even tell time. when are we going to wake up and tell it like it is.

Anonymous said...

Excuse me. I actually work as a teacher at the school that anonymous at 9:01 am feels the need to slander. I'm curious to know this persons sources for his allegations, since I strongly doubt you are someone who works at our school.