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

Tuesday, August 11, 2009

. . . and All for One: Bloomberg, Duncan, and Murdoch, Aaarrgh

When you have the Secretary of Education, Arne Duncan, and right wing media mogul, Rupert Murdoch, on your side, state legislators soon begin to line up where the bread is buttered and where the rum is pouring--aargh!. Such was the case last week as the New York Senate renewed Little Bloom's one man rule of New York City Schools. Dunc took the opportunity to thank the New York Post for its contributions to the discourse in favor of ending public discourse on and in NYC Schools.

Now Little Bloom cannot delay pushing his failure machine into overdrive. Instead of waiting for the results of a Rand study this fall on the effects of using a single test to retain students in grades 3, 5, 7, and 8, the Bloomberg/Klein machine will add grades 4 and 6 to the failure opportunity list. After all, if the Rand Study finds the policy ineffective in raising test scores, that would make the policy change more difficult for the public to swallow.

From the NYTimes:

Mayor Michael R. Bloomberg said on Monday that he planned to make it harder this year for fourth and sixth graders who score poorly on standardized tests to move on to the next grade, extending a policy that his re-election team hopes will help him curry favor with voters.

Under the requirements, which are already in place for grades three, five, seven and eight, students who perform at the lowest level on state tests in English and math will have to repeat the grade unless they can master the material in summer school.

Previously, under a policy known as social promotion, school officials gave a pass to low-performing students under the belief that they would be more likely to drop out if they were held back and separated from children their own age.

Mr. Bloomberg won approval for the stricter requirements in 2004, beginning with the third grade, after a bruising battle that involved the firing of three members of an education oversight board and criticism from elected officials, educators and good-government groups.

Over all, fewer students are being held back in the city, even with the tougher promotion requirements — a trend that education officials attribute to rises in test scores across the city since the mayor took over in 2002.

In the third grade, for instance, 864 students were held back in the 2007-8 school year, compared with 3,105 in 2002-3, the year before the policy went into effect. In addition, enrollment at summer school has decreased in recent years (it was 105,531 this year, down from 119,954 last year).

Now, as Mr. Bloomberg seeks a third term, he is trying to play down divisions over the policy and portray the end of social promotion as a major reason for the city’s large gains in test scores and graduation rates, even though it is difficult to definitively prove that relationship.

At an East Harlem elementary school on Monday, Mr. Bloomberg said social promotion was “as cruel and mean a thing as we could possibly do for any student.”

“All we’re doing is setting those students up for failure,” he said. “We are not going to do that.”. . . .

After all, why just set them up for failure when you can assure their failure now, as well as in the future?

1 comment:

  1. Anonymous3:53 PM

    Yeah, Mike. There are soooo many adults who were held back in school, saying "Gee I am so glad I had to repeat the third grade! Wasn't it great that there were so many adults who were nice enough to hold me back while my friends moved on to the 4th grade".