"A child's learning is the function more of the characteristics of his classmates than those of the teacher." James Coleman, 1972

Sunday, April 09, 2006

Pinstripes, Hit Squads & Pimps

The latest round of school reform in New York City , aka attempt to make Michael Bloomberg and Joel Klein look good, is being formulated by Chris Cerf, former President of Edison Schools and Tony Blair's hit man, Sir Michael Barber.
Sir Michael, as a senior education official before joining Mr. Blair's cabinet office, served on a committee nicknamed the "hit squad" because it shut schools that were failing to meet national standards. Britain, which has a strict national curriculum and exams, has developed a system of inspecting schools every three years.

These consultants, often in pinstripe suits and ensconced in a conference room on the third-floor mezzanine of the headquarters of the Education Department in Lower Manhattan, are working with a small army of city education officials, all led by Mr. Klein's chief of staff, Kristen Kane. The effort is being paid for with $5 million in private donations.
Even Diane Ravitch with her rose-colored glasses who is calling for national standards, can see through this one:
Noting that the city's four-year high school graduation rate of about 53 percent had barely budged during Mr. Bloomberg's tenure, Ms. Ravitch added: "It is hard to see why this number will increase as the result of yet another massive upheaval in the structure of governance."

And Randi Weingarten, the president of the city teachers' union, said: "Joel and all his management guru types never talk to anyone who actually does the work — that's what so mind-boggling. Our mission isn't constantly trying to reinvent ourselves into an entrepreneurial model that will get golden globes at the Harvard Business School. How do we help all 1.1 million kids get a decent high school education?"

This group of private, altruistic investors could have saved $5 million if they just took the time to consult with teachers. In an educational system hijacked by pinstripes and hit squads, when it comes to teachers it's obviously none of their business.

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