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

Wednesday, January 27, 2010

Bloomberg Public Schools Policy: Let them Crumble or Make Them Fail

In the big Albany compromise last fall that renewed Bloomberg's dictatorship of NYC Schools, a new Panel of Educational Policy was constituted that was supposed to give parents a voice in school matters. By some coincidence, Bloomberg ended up with power to appoint 8 of his own stooges to the 13 seat panel. Game, set, match.

Bloomberg is now free, then, to ignore the rotting buildings that are not yet to be axed, and for the rest, there is forced closure. And so it was last evening that large numbers of parents showed up as part of their role to protest school closings in Bloomberg's evening of kabuki theatre, with both sides playing out their allotted roles as angry citizens and students or calm rubber stamps for the Little Dictator. This clip from Joel Shatzky at Huffington Post:

. . . .The pattern followed by the Department of Education and Chancellor Klein is, at least to me, fairly obvious: many of the public schools being closed were "made to fail" by the conditions in which the teachers were forced to teach:

1. A successful school is suddenly burdened with an influx of students from another school that has been closed. Many of these newly arrived students have high needs but the DOE does not give sufficient support to enable the school to accommodate these students with some chance of success.

2. The school begins to perform badly in standardized tests, four-year graduation rates, and other indicators of "success," as determined by the DOE.

3. Parents of many of the high-achieving students withdraw their children from the school because it now has a "failing" reputation.

4. The school, now completely overburdened by special needs students and inadequate staffing and support, is judged a "failure" and is closed.

5. Smaller schools, many of them charter schools, replace the "failed" school and the cycle begun when the first school was closed repeats itself.

This is like a swimming coach requiring a successful swimmer to wear concrete shoes at all future competitions and then kicking him off the team for "poor performance."

. . . .

Joy Blakeslee, a teacher at New Day Academy, one of the "new" smaller schools that is going to be closed, expressed her confusion at the treatment of her school. (I "embedded" myself in the line of those waiting to enter the building and was struck by her students' sophisticated awareness of what was happening to the school, especially when one of them referred to the school as "our family.") In November, New Day, she explained, which is a member of a progressive consortium that relies more on the portfolio system than drilling students on test scores, was given a new principal, who has an excellent reputation in "turning around" a school to make it successful; three weeks later, it was announced that the school would be closed.


Students from New Day Academy.

There are many more stories about the mismanagement by the DOE of these so-called "failed" schools which I plan to include in a following article. But my strong impression from the evidence I have gathered from students, parents and teachers over the past few years is that the Bloomberg Administration is practicing a form of "educational colonialism" on our school system. Whatever good he believes he is accomplishing, in favoring those students who are fortunate enough to have parents or other people who can look out for their interests at the expense of those students who do not, he is making a terrible mistake.

1 comment:

  1. Anonymous7:40 PM

    They are waking up...good morning, hello - it's finally hitting the fan