Questionable contract?

If you want to volunteer for our Citizens Contract Oversight Committee, or have a tip to share, please email us at

Saturday, June 9, 2007

From Cash to Crash

June 8,2007 (GBN News): A Brooklyn middle school student today became the first recipient of a new cash incentive program of the NY City Department of Education. But in what can only be described as a surreal scene, his triumph suddenly took an ugly turn.

The day began routinely enough. In an assembly at MS 322, attended by both Mayor Michael Bloomberg and Chancellor Joel Klein, seventh grader Josh Bigham was awarded $50 for scoring a perfect grade on a recent interim assessment. The cash awards are designed to provide an incentive for students to improve their test scores, and Josh’s achievement appeared to demonstrate the program’s effectiveness. “Up till now,” Josh said with a beaming Mayor and Chancellor looking on, “I couldn’t pass a test no matter how hard I tried. But when they told us about the $50, all of a sudden it was a snap. Like I just couldn’t get a wrong answer if I tried!”

But it was when Josh was asked what he intended to do with the money that things started to go downhill for the young man. No sooner had he replied that he intended to use the money to buy a new cell phone, three imposing looking men in dark suits suddenly barged in and spirited him out of the room. The apparent abduction occurred so fast that no one in the room was able to get a good look at the men, but they appeared to be talking in some sort of Slavic language. The other children in the room shrieked in panic, but oddly, Mr. Bloomberg and Mr. Klein looked on impassively, seemingly unperturbed by the bizarre turn of events.

It was not until later in the day that GBN News learned what had actually occurred. A source deep inside the DOE confirmed that the three men were part of a “Quick Response Unit” loyal to School Security Chief Emomali Rakhmon. Mr. Rakhmon, until recently the President of Tajikistan, has begun a severe crackdown on cell phones at the Mayor’s request. The former Tajik strongman is said to have secretly instituted a rule banning so much as the mention of cell phones on school property, and Josh unwittingly became the first victim of the new regulation. The DOE source also confirmed that Josh will be held indefinitely at “Little Gitmo”, a youth detention facility for cell phone violators created as one of Mr. Rakhmon’s school security reforms.

Civil Rights attorney Norman Siegel, speaking on behalf of Mr. Bigham’s parents, challenged the legality of both the new cell phone regulations and the detention facility as “excessive” and “draconian”. However, the mayor suggested that the parents were overreacting. “So he got detention”, the Mayor said to reporters. “Detention has always been a part of school. The kid should stop whining and suck it up.” It was unclear if Josh will be able to keep the $50.


Jan Carr said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Jan Carr said...

It serves the young man right. If he had expressed an interest in doing something sensible with the money -- for instance, enrolling in a test prep course, or investing in McGraw Hill (whose stock is bound to climb given all the new, lucrative contracts), or even setting up a store of #2 pencils -- the arrest and detainment would never have happened. Our mayor and chancellor should be commended. Clearly, they will not rest until all our city's students understand the value of perpetual testing, and until the scourge of cell phones is removed from our schools!

Pissed Off said...

I second Jan's comments

jonathan said...

It's up to you guys, but I look for information from your blog. Satire has its place, but I am now left not certain if anything in the post was true, or if the entire thing was a joke. This also raises issues about other posts.

Gary Babad said...

That's just the point! The stuff Bloomberg and Klein put out is so outrageous, it's hard to believe they're really serious, and the fine line that my satires walk between fact and fiction is designed to point this up. I mean, these folks actually seem to view posession of cell phones in school as equivalent to some sort of terrorist threat. Why else would they dig in their heels in the face of opposition from everyone from parents to legislators to teachers to the police? They're their own best parody. On a personal note, and I know many on the blog share this view - I am so furious about the way these folks are ruining my kids' education, jeopardizing their safety, and freezing out the views of parents and professional educators, that if I don't laugh I will truly cry.

jonathan said...

So the entire post was fiction?

Jan Carr said...

A simple solution for telling the fact from the fiction is to look at the beginning of the articles. Gary's parody articles begin with the heading "GBN News." The parody articles that I myself post begin "Gadfly News." Admittedly, it is often hard to tell what is satiric since the news from Tweed is so far-fetched. Also, the satiric articles have elements of news woven into them, riffing off whatever is current. Though it may be confusing, I myself am very grateful for the satire, and agree with Gary that if I don't laugh, I'll cry. And I think that the barbs implicit in the satire are a satisfying way of striking back since the DOE doesn't seem to take seriously parents' concerns voiced through normal channels.