Thursday, July 03, 2014

Those Darn Kids in "Failing" Schools

Boys and Girls High School is in trouble. For one thing, it's only graduating 40% of those boys and girls. This makes it look bad, and since there are no excuses for looking bad, there must be steps taken. The step favored by Mike Bloomberg would be to close the school and send all those boys and girls elsewhere.

This was a useful tool to Bloomberg, because once the boys and girls showed up in another building, he could then blame that building and close it too. In fact, he even closed some of the new schools he opened when they failed to produce results. Thus you have an endless stream of failing schools, you close them, open new ones, and nothing whatsoever is your fault. It's a thing of beauty.

Of course when you're closing and opening schools people notice it's not working. It's then necessary to expand the blame. Since nothing whatsoever can ever be your fault, you blame the teachers. Of course you've always blamed the teachers, but now you can take action. You attack their method of layoffs, saying you simply cannot afford to get rid of the new teachers. They are all wonderful and all the experienced teachers suck. The only way to fairly dismiss teachers is to give you absolute power to fire anyone you like, arbitrarily and capriciously. The good thing about that is if you don't get what you want, you can now blame the law.

And that's what's happening in the Vergara case. Kids can't learn because their teachers suck. It's not that they failed to study. It's not that they have learning disabilities. It's not that there's rampant poverty, and it doesn't matter that every single so-called failing school comes from an area of rampant poverty, even though it does. It's not that there are huge learning problems associated with rampant poverty, even though there are. If only we'd hired magical teachers poverty wouldn't matter at all.

This is very convenient for politicians, because it's a real pain in the ass to deal with poverty. That would entail actually helping the people they're elected to serve, and that's a pretty tough thing to do. Better to blame the teachers.

So now, in the US, we have rich people who want to stay that way. They don't want to pay more taxes to help the poor people. Instead they bring high-profile lawsuits so America believes it's the teachers failing our kids. And they really can't lose. If they win, they save big bucks by dumping the teachers who get higher salaries. And if they lose, they can continue to say you see, those teachers suck, and that's why kids aren't graduating from Boys and Girls High School.

And Eva Moskowitz can open charters, screen out the kids who she thinks will fail, and dump the kids who actually do fail. Then she gets a 100% graduation rate, and all the failing kids get dumped back into Boys and Girls High School, or some other public school that can be vilified in the press as failing. It's a win-win!

Except for the actual kids who are failing at Boys and Girls High School, because no one administering an education system has ever lifted a finger to help them.
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