Monday, March 24, 2008

Education Next Looks at Mr. Bloomberg

On the left, apparently, is what they see. Despite Mayor Bloomberg's well-documented failure to raise test scores he couldn't manipulate, and despite having included an illustration of basically flat results in NAEP, they offer a contrary view:

“Shame, shame!” scolded Whitney Tilson. Tilson, a hedge fund manager and founding member of Teach For America who issues a regular e-mail newsletter about Bloomberg’s education reforms, called the Times story “lousy” and argued that the NAEP scores showed noteworthy improvements in three of the four measures.

Clearly, hedge fund managers are far more knowledgeable than expert historians like Diane Ravitch, or papers like The New York Times, and they, therefore, deserve equal billing, if not the last word (In Education Next, that honor is left to the mayor). Nonetheless, Mr. Tilson's concern for working people is well-documented. That's why he invests so heavily in Wal-Mart and McDonald's. Mr. Tilson states he's made more on McDonald's than on any stock in his investment career (Perhaps Mr. Tilson could offer Chancellor Klein advice on how to remedy his bad investments).

Clearly, those awful unions prevent schools from being run like McDonald's or Wal-Mart. Therefore, they must be stopped, After all, how could McDonald's or Wal-Mart treat working people the way they do if there were unions to contend with? Mr. Tilson now runs a group called "Democrats for Educational Reform." It's clever in a way--with anti-labor, anti-union, pro-Wal-Mart Democrats, who needs Republicans?

Still, when our kids grow up, they will have to work. Personally, I wouldn't trust the good graces of these "Democrats" to protect them. And I doubt they'll want their kids working in Mickey D's either. But really, what are the chances of that when Daddy's a hedge fund manager?

As for the supposedly evil union bosses, what are they concerned about? Well, UFT President Randi Weingarten was interviewed for this article, and upon learning about Mr. Bloomberg's breakfast preferences, inquired:

“I have breakfast with the mayor. Did he tell you that?”

It's a relief to know Ms. Weingarten is concerned, but somewhat of a disappointment to see what she's concerned about. I'm concerned about working people, as I'm fairly certain my child and my students will grow up to join our ranks.

If Mr. Bloomberg cared about schools, he'd make sure that kids in NYC had good teachers, reasonably sized classes, and decent facilities. Unfortunately, Mr. Bloomberg opts for band-aids, shortcuts, "reforms," the highest class sizes in the state (which somehow eluded Education Next), and shoveling children into schools like mine whether or not they can be accommodated.

When I first started, oversized schools were given annexes, or extra buildings to accommodate those who couldn't fit into buildings. Now Mr. Bloomberg's people can build walls in classrooms that house 34 and Voila! These same classrooms now house 68. It's brilliant! Never mind that the sheetrock wall has no soundproofing whatsoever.

Imagine trying to get 6 South American kids to speak English while the teacher next door has her class chorally repeating "Come esta usted?" Imagine clearly hearing every single word uttered in that classroom. Imagine people playing music, dancing and shouting outside your classroom. Imagine a classroom you wouldn't board your dog in. If you can do that, you have an idea of what public school education is like in Mr. Bloomberg's New York.

Over at Education Next, they don't bother visiting classrooms. Why should they? They have "experts" to rely on. As they have no apparent need to examine what actually goes on as Mr. Bloomberg places "Children First," it's no wonder Diane Ravitch quit their ranks.
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