Tuesday, June 19, 2007

Patrick Sullivan on the Panel for Educational Policy!

Patrick Sullivan, a public school parent, a Class Size Matters board member, and co-founder of this blog, was appointed by Manhattan Borough President Stringer as the Manhattan representative to the Panel on Education Policy. He was sworn in at Tweed on Monday.

At Monday's PEP meeting, without a moment's hesitation, Patrick immediately became the the panel's most independent member, with incisive questions to James Liebman, head of the accountability office, and Chancellor Klein about the interim assessments and the so-called "fair student funding" (FSF) proposals.

He pointed out that parents are already tired of the excessive testing of their kids driving out real learning, and that the new set of interim assessments supposed to be given five times a year will only make things worse. He asked Liebman why his claim that these were "no-stakes assessments" was not contradicted by the recent announcement that students would be paid for receiving high scores. Liebman also admitted, in passing, that schools might also choose to count these scores as part of students' grades.

Patrick pointed out that under "fair student funding" about half of all failing schools would have seen substantial budget cuts if this proposal had been fully implemented-- and even under the compromise agreement negotiated by the UFT not to cut schools' budgets, would see no extra funding at all. How this proposal will lead to improving our lowest-performing schools -- and students -- is hard to imagine.

He also asked why the funding changes would not undercut the professional status of teachers, by giving a financial incentive to principals to get rid of their most experienced staff.

It was an auspicious and feisty debut and foretells more stimulating sessions to come. In short, there will be a definite reason to attend these meetings once again. Thank you, MBP Scott Stringer!

1 comment:

jonathan said...

Congratulations to Patrick.

I don't know if he's the greatest thing since sliced bread (hasn't sliced bread been banned from school lunches?), but he certainly appears from his writing to have a thoughtful, reasonable voice on some issues of importance to our public schools.