Tuesday, March 15, 2016

The Magic Formula

Sue Edelman has a piece in the Post about how several schools have avoided takeover. Evidently whether or not a school gets taken over entails graduation rates, Regents passing rates, and whether or not you are in the bottom 5% of schools. So these schools dodged a bullet, but the article suggests they are still not doing that well.

I wonder what the difference is between a school in the bottom 5%, which appears to be bad, and the bottom 6%, which somehow is not. What makes schools only in the bottom 7% so much better? I can't really say, but I guess if you live by the numbers, you die by the numbers.

When you reaize that test scores pretty much all coincide with income or lack thereof, you might determine we should simply close all schools that poor people attend. Under that model, which is pretty much status quo anyway, we could judge the students by income. For example, we could find out how many students qualified for free lunch and simply expel them. That'll get those test scores up in a hurry.

Of course the solution to so-called failing schools, according to Governor Cuomo, is to place them under receivership. Let the state run them. That's worked out fabulously in Roosevelt New York, just a few miles north of my home in Freeport. A young woman who took my blood pressure at a doctor's office went there, and told me many stories of what the high school was like under state control. I'm surprised my blood pressure didn't spike right then and there.

Now the state does not necessarily have to take over these schools with high percentages of poor people. Perhaps we could let Eva Moskowitz in to work her magic. Of course, a lot of charters have not done so well under that particular paradigm. Locke High School was taken over by Green Dot, Randi Weingarten's favorite charter chain (UFT partnered with them to bring them to NYC), and they didn't fare all that well.

But the important thing is to take these schools away from their communities, which are too poor to have or run their own schools. And once we get rid of that bottom 5%, there'll be another bottom 5% to worry about. Maybe if we keep attacking public schools 5% at a time, eventually there'll be so few left that the hedge funders will be able to drown union in a bathtub or something. That's something folks like Broad, Gates, and the Walmart heirs have wet dreams about.

Until and unless we attack poverty, like Finland did, there are going to be a whole lot of schools our insane system deems failing on the basis of tests that may or may not measure what's important.

It's too bad we've been vilified and libeled so widely and for so long. I'm no genius, but I can write tests for my kids a whole lot better than the companies getting paid millions to assess them.
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