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

Wednesday, September 06, 2006

NYC Democrats Call for Smaller Classes

Remember the good old days when a press conference meant someone from the news media would likely be covering it? Not anymore. Despite an upcoming election, Randi Weingarten, president of NYC's teacher union and Democratic politicians who held a press conference outside of P.S. 89 in TriBeca calling for smaller classes got the shaft -- yet again.

The president of the city teachers’ union, Randi Weingarten, and a large cast of Democratic politicians, including the City Council speaker, Christine C. Quinn, held a news conference outside P.S. 89 in TriBeCa to call yet again for smaller classes.

“We’re all excited about the first day of school,” said Robert Jackson, the chairman of the Council’s Education Committee. “But teachers are not excited about having 34 kids in a class.”

Seven New York Times reporters covered and contributed to this story on day 1 of school for 1.1. million students. The article covers much territory and provides good insight into some of the issues facing overcrowded, inner city schools but once again, the reporters are missing the real story because they continue to act more like the public relations crew for Chancellor Joel Klein and Mayor Michael Bloomberg than real journalists.

Of course, while Bloomberg boasts of a "picture perfect moment," rising test scores at P.S. 8, and more autonomy for school principals, at Hillcrest High School in Queens, students waited for more than an hour to get through metal detectors, an eighth grader in the Bronx said his school needs more lockers and computers and another school was rocked by a rumor that they were about to be deluged with special education students. The Bloomberg vision is clear, the future of the city rests on rising test scores.

Seconds later, Zeke, just days shy of his fifth birthday, was hoisted up by Mayor Michael R. Bloomberg, his first day of school instantly immortalized. Even Mr. Bloomberg acknowledged that a more picture-perfect moment could hardly have been written. “Straight from central casting,” the mayor declared, holding Zeke on his hip.

After posing, Mr. Bloomberg urged reporters to look at P.S. 8’s test results. The scores have risen steeply in recent years as residents of the increasingly wealthy neighborhood showed renewed interest in the school.

“If you could do this in every school,” Mr. Bloomberg said, “the future of this city would be assured.”
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If we can just teach to the test, fill in the bubbles and raise test scores, there will be fewer reporters with inquiring minds to ask why so much money is being spent on testing when it could be used to reduce class size, install new computers and lockers and possibly even update the scanning equipment that keep thousands of students waiting for an hour in line to get into school.

Whose future is Bloomberg trying to assure? Whose future is Weingarten and the Democrats trying to assure? It's time for voters and the American public, the ones who were not raised on mindless testing, to start asking these questions.

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