Thursday, July 23, 2015

MaryEllen Elia, Magician

It's fascinating to read about NY State Education Commissioner MaryEllen Elia and her listening tour. "Fix your schools or I will," sayeth she. There are a whole bunch of schools on the list. In Long Island, where I live, there are several districts facing receivership. Here they are, along with the percentage of students poor enough to qualify for free lunch.
Central Islip - 91%
Roosevelt - 91%
Wyandanch- 80%
Hempstead - 78%

Do you see a pattern here? I do, and the pattern is replicated all over these United States of America. For some odd reason, every time there are large percentages of impoverished children, there are also large percentages of low test scores. What can we conclude from that? Well, MaryEllen Elia, like Governor Andrew Cuomo and his Heavy Hearted Assembly, has concluded there are two fundamental issues.

1. The schools suck, and
2. The teachers suck.

This is why we now have a system that rates teachers based on the student test grades. You see, if I spend 40 minutes a day with Johnie, and he doesn't learn English instantly, and he can't answer Common Corey questions, I suck. If Arwen teaches a student with no food at home, and the student has issues staying awake in class, Arwen also sucks. The only solution, in the view of geniuses like Andrew Cuomo and MaryEllen Elia, is to test the kids, and based on their scores, get rid of teachers like us who suck.

Because NY State knows what to do with a troubled school district. Well, they've never actually been successful, because they spent a decade in Roosevelt and Roosevelt is still on the list. But MaryEllen Elia knows what to do. She has a secret plan, you know, like Nixon did when he was gonna win the Vietnam War. OK, really it's not a secret. She's gonna fix everything.

Here's the thing. I've never heard of anyone doing that. Green Dot failed in their much-vaunted school takeover in LA. As far as I know, there is one way to be successful in raising test scores. You start your own school, cherry pick the kids, get rid of the ones who don't perform, don't replace the ones who leave, and then grease the governor's palm so he makes laws for you. (There are, of course, the alternate models of lying about the stats or changing the scores yourself.)

All MaryEllen has is a list of schools. She has no plan other than getting rid of teachers and placing new people in charge. But hey, that's the law. The Heavy Hearts passed the law and Michael Mulgrew thanked them for it.

A lot of people will suffer. Teachers will be fired and the hearts will be ripped right out of communities. But hey, their test scores suck, so the teachers suck, the schools suck, and the communities must suck too. That's pretty much what the law says.

Time for MaryEllen Elia to wave her magic wand.
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