Tuesday, February 12, 2008

Another Day in Kleinworld

Imagine your kid's teacher gave an "A" on a test, and the next week gave a zero, just for the hell of it. Sure, you could say one wiped out the other, but you'd be upset for sure. I know I would.

That's how a lot of principals felt when Chancellor Klein handed them bonuses, then yanked the rug out from under them by cutting their budgets. Rather than using the money for enrichment programs, much needed improvements in facilities, or reducing class sizes, school leaders are using them to plug holes in their budgets.

Ernest Logan, president of the principals union, put it in blunter terms, noting how the mayor and the chancellor touted the awards a few weeks ago, then "sucked that money right back."

"It was not well thought out," Logan said.

Of course it wasn't. That's why schools with records of consistent excellence got Bs and Cs simply because their test averages went down a few points this year. The remarkably shallow rating system suggests that schools with long-term 65 averages are better than those with long-term 90 averages. Why? School A went from 60 to 65, while school B went from 92 to 90. Therefore, in Kleinworld, school A is improving while school B is going down the toilet. School safety? That's just 2.5% of the score (Keep your eye on your pocketbook in school A, and consider body armor in place of that pantsuit).

In Kleinworld, schools deemed in need of improvement simply have fewer resources to achieve it. Hopefully, they'll fail completely, the chancellor will shut them down, and squeeze 5 "small schools" in their place. Because the small schools will admit no special ed. or ESL kids, scores will go up, and Kleinworld can declare another victory.

Sometimes I have to go to seminars where reps from Tweed give long speeches about what great jobs they're doing. I ask them why they do things that don't really address the dysfunction of this system.

"Well, we had to do something," they say.

I ask why they couldn't so something meaningful.

They never have an answer.

Thanks to Schoolgal
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