Wednesday, August 05, 2015

On Inconsistent Agendas and Shifting Scores

A young woman writes a piece in the Post expressing outrage that she graduated. After all, she barely attended one of her classes. There was just no way she deserved to pass. But when it comes time to go to college, she's right there.

“I don’t think I did anything bad,” she said.

I don't think so either.  But her own story suggests outrage:

New York City gave me a ­diploma I didn’t deserve.

It may seem odd that I’m speaking up, but it’s only because I’m fully aware I didn’t deserve to pass a course that allowed me to graduate.

You know, it's not like the young woman couldn't have done something about it. She could have read a book, sat for a test, written a paper, or done something to ease her anxiety. Her teacher also spoke to the Post, saying she passed the young woman because she was under enormous pressure. This pressure, though, is nothing particularly new. The teacher is not jumping up and down with pride over this decision:

But if we set the bar higher, we would be a failing school.

That's pretty much the case, from all I see.  And what exactly is a failing school? Well, there are several metrics. One, of course, is the graduation rate. In a perfect world, every student would graduate in four years, without exception. In this world, though, there are all sorts of messy things that get in the way. Maybe the kid doesn't speak English. Maybe the kid has a severe learning disability. Maybe the kid's parents work 200 hours a week, offer no supervision, and the kid has no sense of discipline. Or maybe the kid, like the one in this story, just didn't bother coming to class.

In 2015, all of that is the teacher's fault, and all of that is the school's fault. Never mind that these things occur with great frequency only in high poverty areas with high concentrations of kids with high needs. The NY Post editorial board can't be bothered hearing about such things. Better to blame Carmen Fariña, as though this didn't even exist for the interminable years their BFFs Mikey Bloomberg and Joel Klein ran the city.

Rather than rely mainly on test scores, grades and other clear measures to see if a student is ready to advance, Fariña OK’d “a comprehensive evaluation of student work using multiple measures.”

Actually, NY Post, that was based on state regulations. But don't expect to see them asking Tisch or Cuomo to step down any time soon. But the Post editorial board loves test scores. They'd feed them to our children for breakfast, lunch and dinner given half a chance. The fact that state tests seem to get worse with each passing year is neither here nor there.

Where was the Post's outrage when Bloomberg's scores miraculously went up as the state dumbed down the tests? Did they ask for Klein to step down? Did Post chief Murdoch refrain from giving Klein a megabucks corporate gig on his DOE departure? Did they ask for Bloomberg's resignation? Of course not.

There is an agenda at the Post editorial department, and it has little or nothing to do with ensuring our children get a great education. Murdoch saw, long ago, that there was tons of cash to be made off the backs of our children. Therefore public education is bad, teacher unions are a menace, and anyone who isn't simply trying to crush union must be humiliated at each and every opportunity.

The series of Post stories are open to interpretation. Mine is that teachers and schools ought not to be under such pressure to pass absolutely everyone. We should teach students that there are consequences when they fail to be responsible. It's not Carmen Fariña's fault that there is ridiculous pressure to graduate as many kids as possible. It's not her fault the Heavy Heart Assembly passed an insane bill that will place public schools into receivership. And it's certainly not her fault that there is such ridiculous pressure on school administration that things like this occur.

The Post is already running gleeful articles suggesting this could be the end of mayoral control. I'd be fine with the end of mayoral control, but the Post only wants the end of de Blasio's control. And let's be honest, he hasn't got all that much anyway since Cuomo took Eva's money and forced NYC to foot the rent whenever she feels like expanding her company.

Should we get another reformy mayor, the Post will once again be enamored of mayoral control, and passing kids for no reason will no longer be a problem. The names change, but the agenda remains the same. It's tough keeping a level head with people trying to punch us in the face all the time, but that's still our job.

We'll have to let the crazies do their thing while still striving to keep our eye on what's important. And in case you don't know, that's our kids. One day they will have to work for a living just like us. We need to fight the crazies at least long and strong enough to make that possible.
blog comments powered by Disqus