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

Friday, November 09, 2007

The Economist: The Bloomberg-Klein "grand plan to charterise the entire city school system"

Whoops! The cat is officially out of the bag, with the account of how Bloomberg & Klein plan to privatize the New York City Schools.

It will not be simple sell, however, to convince the public to turn over the Schools to the corporate curriculum writers bought by Eli Broad, Bill Gates, and the Walton family, in schools where tenure is abolished and teachers do test score piece work, where the civic responsibility of providing for our children's educations has been relinquished to those who have have reduced the value of life to the formulae provided by consumer capitalists and their mantra of global competitiveness, where a child becomes a "scholar" in the bogus data factory that has replaced the idea of school, where she works overtime toward a future that poverty and racism will most likely disallow.

To get this charterising done, Bloomberg and Klein must hold up an example to show a skeptical public how they can tame poor black children while choking high test scores out of them. This is the miracle of KIPP, where children and parents must sign a contract that assures compliance and no complaining if a child is to be allowed to be brainwashed into believing that his future simply depends upon how hard he works, how nice he is. Otherwise, complainers or behavior problems or slackers are booted out, and in comes the next eager face from the waiting list of children whose parents are desperate for something other than the standard fare that Bloomberg and Klein provide to the poor of NYC. And if the child remains compliant, by the time he comes to see through the illusion, he will have learned that he, himself, must have not worked quite hard enough or that he was somehow less than nice to deserve the fate that he, indeed, could not have created.

A clip from The Economist:

THE 220 children are called scholars, not students, at the Excellence charter school in Brooklyn's impoverished Bedford-Stuyvesant district. To promote the highest expectations, the scholars—who are all boys, mostly black and more than half of whom get free or subsidised school lunches—are encouraged to think beyond school, to university. Outside each classroom is a plaque, with the name of a teacher's alma mater, and then the year (2024 in the case of the kindergarten), in which the boys will graduate from college.

Like the other charter schools that are fast multiplying across America, Excellence is an independently run public school that has been allowed greater flexibility in its operations in return for greater accountability, though it cannot select its pupils, instead choosing them by lottery. If it fails, the principal (head teacher) will be held accountable, and the school could be closed. Three years old, Excellence is living up to its name: 92% of its third-grade scholars (eight-year-olds, the oldest boys it has, so far) scored “advanced” or “proficient” in New York state English language exams this year, compared to an average (for fourth-graders) across the state of 68% and only 62% in the Big Apple. They did even better in mathematics.

This is the sort of performance that the mayor, Michael Bloomberg, now wants to extend from New York's 60 charter schools to all of the city's schools. On November 5th, the mayor and his schools chancellor, Joel Klein, announced what is in effect the final piece in their grand plan to charterise the entire city school system. As charter schools remain politically contentious, though, they have been careful not to use that phrase in public.

When Mr Klein took the job in 2002, having led the Clinton administration's efforts to break up Microsoft, The Economist joked that he should try to do the same thing to New York's schools monopoly. He more or less has. Under the new scheme, every school run by the city will receive a public report card, with a grade that reflects both academic performance and surveys of students, parents and teachers. The first grades were given out this week. . . .


  1. That fawning article is typical of the sort of press this mayor receives. Unfortunately, they tend not to dig very deep, and to take the mayor's pronouncements as absolute truth. The collaboration of the union has been crucial at every step in enabling this.

    Bloomberg's one PR disaster was when his private consulting firm took charge of school busing, literally leaving kids to freeze on the coldest days of the year.

    On the heels of this, UFT President Randi Weingarten unilaterally halted a demonstration against City Hall, approving a third reorganization that made it even more difficult for experienced teachers to find positions. Even union doesn't much help working people when its leaders crawl firmly into the pockets of management.

  2. The tables seem to have turned. The UFT is now circulating a Petion Against DOE School Report Cards. A little to late..you think?