Wednesday, December 02, 2009

Seeking The Holy Grail

Gotham Schools reports on Mayor Bloomberg's continuing quest to make test scores a factor in whether or not teachers are granted tenure. If you read the tabloids, he's riding a white steed into battle, protecting children everywhere. But if you know anything about how untenured teachers are really treated, the entire conflict is nonsense.

When you can be fired for a bad haircut, or even a good one, you don't simply agonize over whether 52 or 53% of your kids passed the latest high-stakes test. And when the NAEP test results come out, don't expect the mayor to commit ritual suicide to set an example.

Instead, he'll blame those lazy, shiftless teachers, the ones who never do any work and take summers off just to sit on their fat asses when they could be working 200 hours a week like the good people at KIPP. Because everything is their fault and nothing is his. And when he closes schools, it wasn't his fault they didn't work. So what if he lavished attention and time on charter schools while neglecting the entire public school system?

It's not his fault those schools failed. And when he opens 5 brand new ones in the same building, if even one of them works it will prove he fixed the entire school. The News and the Post editorial pages will never whisper word one about the four others, or the fact that the kids are completely different.

No, the important thing is to use those test scores. That will change everything. At least until the economy rebounds and no one wants to teach anymore. Then Mayor-for-life Bloomberg will go back to his old policy of hiring absolutely everyone and anyone whether or not they pass basic competency tests.

And, of course, he'll still blame the teachers for every ill that afflicts the system he's patently unable to manage.
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