Wednesday, July 24, 2019

NY Post--Ignore Everything and Pass Your Tests

I always love an overblown, reckless headline, and where better to find one than today's NY Post? It trumpets, "Forget reading and math, Carranza wants to focus on racial privilege, activism." I love the fact that, when we have a chancellor who finally wants to help the overwhelming majority of our students, it must be at the expense of reading and math. One person calls the chancellor's program "simplistic." There's something simplistic going on here, but it's not the chancellor conducting it.

What's simplistic is the false dilemma being peddled by the NY Post and the various critics it's managed to dredge up. If the chancellor wishes to support minority students, it's preposterous to assume it must be at the expense of basic instruction. Evidently we should plod on, ignore the chancellor's programs, and focus on test prep. That's good enough for our kids, isn't it?

Why should we focus on white privilege, let alone ask our students to? It's a democracy, isn't it? Didn't we just elect a white man President of the United States? Didn't he win fair and square with only three million fewer votes than his opponent? Haven't we got a Supreme Court to ensure that we have liberty and justice for all? Didn't the white-dominated majority party block a candidate proposed by a President of color twice-elected by the popular vote? And doesn't it swing far right because two white Presidents who lost the popular vote got to select people like rapey Judge Biff?

We live in a pretty funny country. Exactly what distinguishes us from a banana republic eludes me. As if that weren't enough, we have a President who openly suggests that Congresswomen who were elected by a majority of their constituents go back where they came from. (That three of the four were born here is neither here nor there.) I'm bone-weary of being lectured about how people should just come here legally, while looking the other way when President Trump suggests people who did just that, along with people who were born here, ought to be deported.

We have a President who promotes xenophobia, a President who separates children from their parents and places them in cages. Our President came demanded the death penalty for the now vindicated Central Park Five, stands by that, and claimed our only black President was illegitimate, based on an outlandish and baseless claim he was born elsewhere. His people just told the country that the police officer who strangled a black man on video would not be prosecuted. I could go on.

Regardless, the Post piece would have you assume there is no such issue as white privilege. It vilifies the chancellor who dares to suggest otherwise. When Joel Klein openly ignored public schools and catered to the interests of Eva Moskowitz instead, the Post did not raise a peep. When Klein closed minority-dominated Jamaica High School based on false stats, not even contradicted by Bloomberg, the Post said nothing. Who knows how much other shoddy paperwork the city did to close schools?

So now, with a President for whom race-baiting comes as naturally as breathing, the Post deems it appropriate to criticize a chancellor who wants our students to be aware of what's going on around them. Not only that, but the article is ostensibly a news piece, not an opinion piece.

“This is just a diversion,” charged Mona Davids, of the NYC Parents Union. “This is to distract parents from the fact that their kids are not being educated properly and are graduating illiterate and innumerate.”

It's an understatement to say I'm less than expert in math. However, I pay very close attention to English instruction. I'm here to tell you that the English Regents exam is among the worst I've ever seen, and that teaching to it, as regarding education, is an utter waste of time. (Of course our students can't graduate without them, so I take time away from sorely needed English instruction to help them with it.) I'd argue that high school students ought to be able to express independent opinions clearly. I'd argue they ought to be able to read and appreciate literature. I'd argue that any course of study culminating in this abysmal exam has nothing to do with that. Anyone stating otherwise, including the NY Post reporter or Mona Davids, is simply not paying attention.

Should we ignore what's going on all around us? If you go by this NY Post article, you'd have to say yes. State exams are not under the chancellor's control, but I'm glad he's looking to have our kids do something worthwhile.
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