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

Thursday, March 20, 2008

New York City Parent Revolt?

In defiance of professional ethics and common sense, Mayor Gradgrind and Chancellor McChoakumchild have added a new layer of punishment for poor children--to go along with guaranteed failure machine that requires 3rd, 5th, and 7th graders to pass math and reading tests before moving to the next grade. Now these Dickensian jackasses have their eye on the 8th graders. Parents and students have had enough. From the New York Times:
Published: March 18, 2008

The Bloomberg administration won approval for a new eighth-grade promotion policy last night at a meeting repeatedly interrupted by the chanting and heckling of parents who contend that the policy amounts to blaming students for the failings of the city’s middle schools.

The policy requires next year’s eighth graders to pass classes in core subject areas and to score at a basic level on standardized English and math exams to be promoted. The Panel for Educational Policy, which oversees the city schools, approved the policy by a vote of 11 to 1 in its meeting at Tweed Courthouse, the Education Department’s headquarters. Eight of the 13 members on the panel — there is one vacancy — are appointed by Mayor Michael R. Bloomberg, and the five borough presidents appoint one each.

From the moment the meeting began, it was punctuated by parents chanting, “Postpone the vote” and “No plan, no vote,” a reference to what they said was the department’s lack of a comprehensive plan for fixing the city’s middle schools.

After the vote, the chants grew louder, culminating in shouts of “Shame! Shame!” that were accompanied by wagging fingers. The meeting was adjourned, with other items on the agenda pushed off to next month’s meeting. Parents continued their protests outside the building while Schools Chancellor Joel I. Klein met with reporters to defend the policy.

“In the end, passing kids through the system without making sure they’re ready for the next grade level is not a formula for success,” he said. “Our job is not to move a kid out of middle school; our job is to move a kid from middle school to high school, prepared for high school.”

Mr. Klein said he believed there was “widespread support throughout the city for the policy.”

But parents and education advocates, who held a news conference protesting the measure on the steps of the courthouse before the meeting, disagreed.

Ken Cohen, the N.A.A.C.P. regional director for New York City, called on the panel to postpone the vote, based on what he said was widespread disapproval of the policy. “Today we are here to see how this body reacts to the voice of the people,” he said. “This is not their government; it is our government. Let the people speak.” . . . .

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