Tuesday, July 20, 2010

Inside Bloomberg's Department of Education

As Mayor Bloomberg rapidly moves to close every school in New York City and convert them into now you see 'em, now you don't operations that can be closed, replaced or disappeared at the drop of a hat, the little peeks we get inside his operation become more and more surreal.  A few weeks ago, like a recalcitrant child, he complained about a court that followed the law, preventing him from closing schools whenever he liked.  Then, he said any parent who sent their kid to one of the schools he was ordered not to close needed an "education."

Of course, Bloomberg is sending so few students to those schools that, in effect,  they won't be open anyway.  And in a startling deal with the UFT, he's placing replacement schools in a bunch of them anyway.  It's incomprehensible to me that they've agreed not to file another lawsuit and are essentially allowing him to walk all over the one they managed to win.  But such is the transitory nature of victory when you have no follow-up strategy, I suppose.

Over the last few years Mayor Bloomberg has made some incredible remarks about which parts of education parents may and may not involved themselves with.  But one of the most telling happened just the other day.  Sure, it's shocking to hear DoE officials using racial epithets.  You'd hope educators would decline to perpetuate such things, but of course the DoE contains few educators--after all, what do educators know about education?

Even more shocking, I'd argue, is someone the DoE hired specifically to help parents, a "family advocate," plotting in public to exclude them.  What sort of training did this guy have that made him think this was acceptable?  Well, anyone who went to the school closing hearings last year saw communities up in arms, while arrogant DoE officials with no respect or interest for their positions sat for hours, ignored every word they said, played with their Blackberries, and recommended whatever Mayor Bloomberg told them to recommend.

It's not really shocking that this administration goes out of its way to ignore communities.  What's shocking is that they do it openly, with utter impunity.  Mayor Bloomberg is right that parents need an "education."  And God help him if, despite the nonsense that passes for editorials in NYC papers, enough of them get one.  He'll have to batten down the hatches as they rise up and storm City Hall with torches and pitchforks.
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