Friday, May 11, 2007


With just a wave of his hand, NYC Schools Chancellor Joel Klein makes 200 ESL students disappear. What's this guy gonna do for an encore?

We'll soon find out. The chancellor has been creating what he calls "small schools" for a few years now. They're not small schools in the traditional sense.

They're the same crappy buildings that have been servicing city kids, forever, but put up a sign here, a wall there, hire five layers of administration, and there you have it--the (name here) __________ Academy of (subject there)__________. Now you've got five schools in one building, and you can call that progress.

Because you don't admit many ESL or special ed. kids, test scores appear to go up, and you can declare victory. Short-term superficial gains are good enough for the tabloids, and the public, apparently. The fact that community schools are being dismantled rather than improved is neither here nor there.

There's nothing like a good community school to bring up a neighborhood (and property values in that neighborhood). Unfortunately, billionaires like Mayor Mike, who send their kids to elite private schools, don't spend much time focusing on things like that. And our union leaders, who ought to know better, let this mayor off the hook precisely when the press was beginning to see chinks in his armor.

Now, schools will be receiving more money, and none of it is earmarked for class size reduction. In my school, there'd be no place to put anyone if we reduced class size. There's barely room to breathe as it is.

If this infusion of money, along with reorganization number three, doesn't produce results (which consist exclusively of test score improvements), expect Mr. Klein to wave his magic wand, send kids scrambling to renamed school all over the city, and once again prematurely declare victory.

After all, he's been doing that for six years, and no one seems to have noticed.
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