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Wednesday, March 3, 2010

Michael Duffy and Tweed: we don't listen and we don't care

Michael Duffy, head of the charter school office at DOE, in an interview said that he learned nothing from speakers at the hearings about the controversial expansion of Girls Prep Charter school:

"… I think, for my part, in a couple of hours of comments, I didn’t hear anything new from the public that wasn’t already known prior to the start of the hearing. I know it’s important that people have a chance to speak their mind, but I don’t think there’s anything that wasn’t known to the Department prior to the proposal for the expansion of Girls Prep."
Obviously he wasn't listening and doesn't care what parents or members of the community think. He is not alone.
Here is an excerpt from DOE's "amended" Educational Impact Statement for the proposed closing of Alfred E. Smith HS, summarizing the public comment so far:
Thirty-eight oral comments and 315 written comments regarding this proposal were received between December 3, 2009, and January 25, 2010. The comments came from current students at Alfred E. Smith, alumni from the school, teachers, community members, and companies that employ Alfred E. Smith alumni. All comments opposed the closure of Alfred E. Smith. At the January 11, 2010, joint public hearing on the original proposal, 100 members of the public noted their opposition.....One oral comment and sixty-one written comments were received between January 26 and February 23; all of these comments also opposed the DOE’s revised proposal.

More than four hundred people sent in comments opposed to the closing and not one in favor.
So did the DOE change its proposal in any way to close Alfred E. Smith?

No. So much for public process.

1 comment:

Steve Koss said...

Two minor comments:

1. As we all know, it has never been about listening. Teachers are always told to model the behavior they want, and Joel Klein's infamous and dismissive "tuning out" at PEP meetings to play with his Blackberry tells all that is needed with regard to how much he values the input of others; and

2. In the present Tweed world, the only inputs that even remotely matter are ideology and data, and the latter only if, when, and how it supports the ideology. Since little or no public comment is couched in terms of the acceptable ideology or presented in terms of data that support it, that input of course tells them that they've heard and learned nothing new. Unquantifiable intangibles like community, persistence, mutual support, pride? Blind emotionalism -- irrelevant, and unmeasurable to boot. Just as they have no useful place in the corporate world when closing a business or a factory, they have no bearing on closing a school.

The hearings make for nice public theater (and a 20-second news clip) that DOE now has to tolerate, but by the next day everyone has gone home and life at DOE goes on just they way they want it. That is, until the NAACP et. al. step in with a lawsuit.