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

Wednesday, May 27, 2009

Bloomberg's School Dictatorship Challenged

From Arthur Goldstein, writing in the Daily News:
Sunday, May 24th 2009, 4:00 AM

As a teacher in an A-rated school, I believe mayoral control has been an absolute disaster.

Absolute power corrupts absolutely. Our federal and state governments have checks and balances so no one person has total control, which is a synonym for dictatorship.

City kids need reasonable class sizes and decent facilities. Under Mayor Bloomberg, class sizes just took their biggest leap in 10 years.

Some people say class size doesn't matter, but even the best teachers can give more attention to 20 kids than 34. The fewer kids I have, the more individual attention each one gets.

Under this mayor, charter schools get the best of everything, including small classes and new technology.

My high school was built to hold 1,800 but enrolls 4,450 students. My kids sit in a crumbling trailer, with no technology and often no heat in the winter. So much for efficiency.

The mayor says it's his way or "the bad old days." That's a false choice. We need a system that works better than what we have.

We need a chancellor who works for the kids, not the mayor. The chancellor needs to fight for what's best for kids whether or not the mayor agrees. He can't do that if the mayor can fire him for not following his orders.

A few years ago, the mayor fired two members of the Panel for Educational Policy who had the nerve to disagree with him.

Consequently, the PEP is a mayoral rubber stamp. No mayoral appointee dares to stand up for kids.
This mayor boasts about accountability. Teachers are accountable. Principals are accountable, but the only time the mayor is accountable is once every four years.

That's not enough, particularly for a man who is prepared to spend $100 million to buy reelection and who scoffed at the voters by changing the term limits law they twice affirmed.

Four more years of this system guarantees the privatization and destruction of public education in New York City. That's a prospect we should all oppose.

Arthur Goldstein teaches English as a Second Language at Francis Lewis High School in Queens.


  1. Reasonable class sizes are always important, less students in class can give more attention.

  2. Anonymous10:09 AM


    From the Los Angeles Times

    Teachers start hunger strike to protest layoffs
    At least nine teachers and two activists take part in the strike, demanding that the district put forth a new budget that doesn't include layoffs or class-size increases.

    By Ruben Vives
    May 28, 2009

    A group of teachers and community activists started a hunger strike Wednesday in protest of the Los Angeles Unified School District's plan to lay off thousands of teachers.

    At least nine teachers and two activists are participating in the action, said Sean Leys, a Lincoln High School teacher.

    Leys says the group is demanding a new budget that will not include layoffs or class-size increases.

    It also wants the district to use federal stimulus money to avoid budget cuts.


    Ayn Randian "Free-Marketeers" have
    wrecked our economy and
    now are aiming their ravenous
    snouts at Public Education.

    The same Randian Plunderers who crashed our World Economy now threaten Public Education via NCLB and testing mandates.

    The scam:
    Declare a school a failure when it's kids can't keep getting higher and higher test scores year after year.

    And if the test scores aren’t bad, then go after the “too-low” graduation rate and smack ‘em hard over THAT.

    NCLB allows you to seek out the weak points to attack Public Schools in the most effective way.

    And be sure to put out lots of smears against teachers, via
    the ever-compliant corporate media, all the while,
    just to set the atmosphere right.

    Then, establish connections with local politicians, mayors and
    conservative school board members. Schmooze.

    Next, get some Venture Capital money together and start Charter School organizations that are ready to take over the local school, regardless of what the local residents want.

    Just ignore those parent demonstrations outside the school—Those
    fool-families are just grumpy because they lose local control over their local school. Tough noogies!! These complainer-parents are
    not worthy of such control!!

    Those people don’t count—--Ignore them mostly, maybe ridicule them a little, and they will fade away. They are weak.

    Working behind closed doors,
    Conservative politicians and Public-School hating school board members will find a way to hand over control of the school to you.


    As a Charter school, you no longer have to publish test scores
    like Public Schools. You can keep lots of (formerly public) school matters SECRET, so you can operate with impunity.

    You can kick out ANY kids you want (like those poor kids, gangmembers and cripples! You can't get good test scores from poor kids, gangmembers & cripples!)

    And you get to kick out The Teacher's Union too.

    And you can manage your charter school along with dozens of others, in the manner of a portfolio manager, just like Wall Street does with
    hedge funds and stuff!
    (They are so successful and honest on Wall Street! Wall Street should be in charge of ALL America's children, shouldn't they?)

    You, as Charter school “Executive”, can be Ken Lay, and the school
    can be your Enron!

    And as a special bonus, the local newspapers & media (owned by wealthy folks who share the Randian philosophy), will not cover your local story, and will treat it as if it never even happened!

    As an investor or Executive, you can now just sit back and watch the money roll in from your (formerly) Public Schools.

    And all those profits---–ALL OF THEM----Come from

    Jesus guarantees you will go straight to Heaven
    for doing all of this. And you, as a Capitalistic “person of faith”, have passed thru "the eye of the needle".

    You have become sacred.

    Ain't America Great?