Thursday, September 20, 2007

A Closer Look At The Manipulated School Crime Stats

We already know that Mayor Moneybags and Chancellor Klein manipulate test scores. The Daily News reported that back on September 4th.

We also know Moneybags and Klein manipulate the physical and sexual abuse complaints on city school buses. The Daily News reported that on September 16th.

As NYC Educator posted here
, today we learned from both the NY Times and the NY Daily News that Klein and Bloomberg are also manipulating crime statistics in public schools.

Boy, these guys know manipulation!

Let's take a closer look at how they do it.

Here's the NY Times account:

A sampling of large New York City high schools showed that the schools failed to notify the state of a significant number of violent or disruptive episodes in the 2004-5 school year, the city comptroller announced yesterday.

The comptroller, William C. Thompson Jr., said an audit showed that the city had not ensured that all principals accurately report violence in their schools, making it difficult for the public to assess their safety.

The audit examined an array of records in 10 schools, comparing them with computerized data sent to the state. It found, for example, that officials at Brooklyn’s Boys and Girls High School informed the state of 14 cases of violence or misbehavior through a special computer system, which the state uses to comply with reporting obligations under the federal No Child Left Behind law.

But the audit also found that in 41 additional cases the state was never informed, including one rape and an instance outside the school in which two students were “about to be jumped” by gang members.

At Alfred E. Smith Career and Technical Education High School in the Bronx, 133 cases, ranging from graffiti to the removal of six students from a particularly disruptive class, were noted in school records but not placed in the computer system and sent to the state, the audit found.

On average, more than one in five episodes at the 10 schools were not reported to the state, the audit found. Reporting varied widely among the schools; some reported most incidents, while others did not.

Chancellor Klein, ever the model for accountability so long as it is teachers being held accountable, promptly blamed the person who ran the audit of the 10 schools - New York City Comptroller Bill Thompson - for the mess and said the public school system has “one of the most comprehensive reporting systems in the country.”

Klein also said that if there was any fault on the part of the school system, it clearly lays with the principals and the school personnel who do the reporting of the crime statistics.

Never mind that it is the chancellor's guidelines, clearly approved by the mayor, that are so vague and open to interpretation that a school principal can fail to report rape and gang violence as crimes.

It's funny how the accountability in the school system always seems to reside just below Klein's level and certainly never gets anywhere near Moneybags either.

For his part, Comptroller Thompson - a candidate for mayor in '09 and probably not someone who is going to want to keep Chancellor Klein around to finish the Children First reforms - dismissed claims that his audit was imprecise and misleading:

"I think parents would want to know the accurate numbers as to whether a school is safe or not safe."

Failing to report every incident, he said, "creates a bit of illusion" that could deprive a school of public resources that might flow with a full accounting.

It also could deprive parents of the right to move their kids to safer schools. Students at schools on the state's list of persistently dangerous schools can request a transfer.

Not to mention it makes it look like Moneybags and Klein are doing a much better job with the school system than they really are.

Ironically, Moneybags released a set of statistics yesterday that showed major felony crime down 2% in schools, from 1,187 in fiscal year 2006 to 1,164 instances in 2007. Bloomberg also reported major felony crimes were down 22% in schools where he sent extra police as part of an anti-crime program. Thompson's audit showed on average more than 1 in 5 crimes or violent incidents were not reported in the 10 schools he audited.

While the comptroller's audit looked at 2004 and the mayor's vaunted stats released yesterday were for 2006-2007, you'd have to think that if there was underreporting in just the 10 schools Thompson looked at, there was underreporting in plenty more that he didn't look at.

You'd also have to think that the statistics Bloomberg released yesterday that he claims shows major reductions in school crime are as phony as his 4th grade math test score statistics.

It's good that Comptroller Thompson called Bloomberg and Klein on their phony crime stats the very day they released others showing how great a job they're doing running the system.

One final note about all this: while Klein seemed to dismiss the whole thing as political nonsense created by Thompson to help him in his mayoral bid in '09, we know from a Daily News report from last week that when principals fail to report incidents properly, deadly consequences can occur:

Heavy pressure to make a school seem less dangerous may have exacerbated a stroke that 15-year-old Mariya Fatima suffered at Jamaica High School in Queens last spring, the girl's family said.

The Daily News reported last week that Jamaica High officials may have waited too long to call for help because an assistant principal barred deans from dialing 911.

Although Thompson stopped short of saying the unreported incidents were deliberately covered up by unscrupulous officials, he referenced the story in The News about Mariya as an example of a "lax attitude" that "paints an artificial and illusory picture of what's actually going on."

Bloomberg and Klein need to open the books and show the methodology for their stats. They claimed in a statement that "The [controller's] methodology wouldn't make it to first base with a researcher worth their salt" because "it used old data, different crime definitions from the ones schools use and looked at only 10 schools."

Different crime definitions?

At one school, a rape wasn't reported as a crime.

Since when is rape not a crime?

Since Mayor Moneybags and Chancellor Klein rewrote the crime definitions!
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