Wednesday, July 10, 2013

The Unwritten Word on Fake Student Advocacy

It's interesting to read the piece in Gotham Schools about Students First NY. You wouldn't know from the piece that this was a Rhee-sponsored reformy entity, since that doesn't merit mention. What is mentioned, of course, is that this article is about a complaint that has not actually been filed. The most outrageous thing is the headline, which blares the preposterous conclusion that the astroturf group is now a Bloomberg adversary.

Ostensibly, the group's complaint is that there are more teachers rated unsatisfactory in low SES schools. This, they contend, indicates that there are, therefore, more bad teachers in these schools than others. Ironically, they're one of the most outspoken opponents of the S/U system they're now trusting made decisions worth complaining about. But when it will garner them an article in Rupey's NY Post or Gotham Schools, who cares about principle?

Of course, when your national leader is someone who finds it hilarious to duct tape the mouths of young children, principle may not be what motivates you anyway.

I didn't realize these schools were dispensing more U-ratings, but it's fairly easy to guess why. For one thing, there is a direct correlation between low-SES and school closings. Schools with high percentages of high needs kids tend not to get high test scores and are therefore considered failing. It's the school's fault the kids have learning disabilities, and it's the school's fault the kids can't speak English. No excuses. Just because the kid arrived from the Dominican Republic four days ago, that's no reason he can't write that essay about American history.

In any case, should you be unfortunate enough to be the principal of one of these so-called failing schools, you are sorely in need of a scapegoat. Since you can't blame the scores on the fact that the kids don't know English, someone has to take responsibility. Now it can't be you, or you'll be working at Kinko's next week. Therefore, it has to be those teachers. If Mr. NYC Educator's kids can't speak English, it must be his fault, so give him a U-rating. That'll show Chancellor Walcott you're tough.

After all, Mayor Bloomberg has publicly bemoaned the dearth of U-ratings for teachers. He wants more, and you'd better deliver. This is particularly urgent if your test scores are nothing to jump up and down about.

Clearly this complaint is ridiculous. Even if it had merit, which it certainly does not, it's based on a system that no longer exists.  Bloomberg will not spend one moment being upset about this. Anything that makes teachers look bad works for him. Anything that degrades and discourages them is just fine in his book. And make no mistake, that's precisely what Students First exists to enable. Students First means Adults Last, and when the kids they shed those crocodile tears over grow up, they'll be just as screwed as the rest of us.

Hardly something to aspire to, if you ask me.
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