Tuesday, January 16, 2007

Mayor Mike's Educational Prescription

Chancellor Klein is going to reveal all his secrets to the Research Partnership for New York City Schools. It's reassuring he's finally acknowledged keeping them from us for the last five years. We're going to learn all about his far-reaching reforms and find out why, despite all those allegedly good intentions, 75% of high schools are still overcrowded.

We're going to find out why, despite years of talk about teacher quality and vows to hire teachers who met standards, 25% of middle school teachers are not even licensed in their subject areas. Maybe he'll explain this, too:

Poor and minority students fare far worse in the city's middle grades and are less prepared for high school than their wealthier, white counterparts, a new report charges.

Only 22% of eighth-graders in high poverty schools meet state reading standards, while 58% of students in wealthier schools make the grade, according to the report, which is out today.

Suburban schools have lower class sizes, pay teachers considerably more, choose from hundreds of applicants, and don't, as a matter of course, place gym teachers in front of ESL classes. As far as I know, they don't target the neediest students for their least-qualified teachers either. Perhaps, though, that's just a coincidence. Perhaps such things have never occurred to Mr, Klein, and that's why he needs to spend tax money studying them. Perhaps such practices don't aid at all in teacher retention.

But it's likely they do. Waiting five years to tell the public what you're doing (if indeed they deliver on that pledge), pretending art teachers don't instruct kids in science, making false claims about class size, fudging statistics about dropouts, using unproven touchy-feely educational programs, shoving kids into buildings like sardines, refusing any input whatsoever from working teachers---these are all hallmarks of the Bloomberg-Klein approach to schools.

Despite this, mayors in LA and DC want to emulate this model. But there's little doubt that anyone who really looks at what's been happening will see that, for all his talk, Mayor Mike's made precious little progress in any area except PR.
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