Monday, June 28, 2010

Class size top parent concerns for fourth year in a row

For the fourth year in a row, ever since the DOE parent survey has been given, smaller classes are the top priority of parents among the ten choices offered.

Despite this fact, class sizes increased this year at an unprecedented rate, and are expected to increase next year as well.

They are larger now in nearly every grade than before the Campaign for Fiscal Equity case was settled, in which the state’s highest court said the class sizes in our public schools were too large to provide children with their constitutional right to an adequate education.

Perhaps that’s why parent satisfaction with the chancellor was more than thirty points lower than their satisfaction with teachers.

Clearly the chancellor is not listening to what parents want, and they realize that.

Sunday, June 27, 2010

Negative learning from high "value-added" teaching?

A new study on teacher “quality” shows that post-secondary teachers who did best in terms of their students' value-added test scores did worst in terms of their students being able to succeed in more advanced course work.

The authors hypothesize that this is the result of “teaching to the test” which hurts the ability of students to engage in “deep learning.”

This is one more piece of evidence revealing how the incredibly simple-minded approach of Bloomberg/Klein/Duncan/Gates and the rest of the Billionaire’s Boys Club to teacher evaluation may have destructive long term impacts.

Their excessively narrow view of learning attempts to impose a narrow and damaging model on teaching.

Rotunno and JFK High School Investigations: A History

The blog JD2718 has provided a disturbing history of investigations into alleged cheating and corruption at JFK High School. It was written by Lynne Winderbaum, former UFT chapter leader at JFK and Bronx district representative.

What I find especially concerning is that several of the investigations were never officially closed and there only appear to be consequences for those who brought their concerns to the investigators.

As a member of the NYC school board, I will be asking the chancellor and DOE general counsel to respond to these accounts.

Saturday, June 26, 2010

More on Anthony Rotunno and the culture of "empowerment" at DOE

See the comment below our previous posting, from a student at Pleasantville high school in Westchester; where Anthony Rotunno was recently hired to be principal.

As reported yesterday in the Daily News, Rotunno was the subject of a scathing new audit from the NY State Comptroller's office, accusing him of allowing his staff to raid thousands of dollars of funds from student bake sales and more when he was principal of JFK HS in the Bronx. More on this in today's Daily News:

Pleasantville School District officials said it wasn't until they saw the Daily News' front-page story Friday that they learned Rotunno was in charge of a school where staffers ran a giant swindle. "Reference checks were extremely positive and no wrongdoings of any nature were reported," the statement says….

But Kennedy PTA President Robert Bosolet Sr., said he long suspected staffers were plundering the students' account. "Each year, there were always kids complaining that they did fund-raising, and they never saw a dime from it," fumed Bosolet, whose triplet sons graduated this year.

"Every time an event happened, and we asked where did that money go, we were never provided with that information."Bosolet said he e-mailed his concerns to the Department of Education, but he couldn't provide evidence.

A DOE spokesman said it "hadn't received a credible accusation of financial mismanagement at the school" prior to the audit.

Yet see our previous posting about years of allegations of cheating on Regents scoring and fake credits at Kennedy that occurred under his watch, and/or the even more devastating account by Lynne Winderbaum, former UFT Bronx HS representative, about Rotunno’s egregious misconduct reported to DOE and going back as far as 2003, with the Chancellor looking the other way each time. Instead, it was the whistleblowers who lost their jobs as a result.

I guess Klein and the educrats at Tweed didn't think that any of the numerous reports of misconduct, nor the findings of this devastating audit that finally prompted Rotunno's dismissal in May, meant that they had the obligation to offer any warning to Pleasantville -- no less refrain from offering positive referrals.

As the Comptroller said yesterday, in rightly laying blame on Rotunno for the financial corruption at the school, "The Kennedy principal did not establish basic accountability for student funds."

Question: if Rotunno was rightly found to be responsible by the Comptroller for the misappropriation of funds that occurred repeatedly under his watch, shouldn't Klein be held to at least the same standard, by having allowed this sort of corruption to go on, year after year, and failing to take any attempt to prevent it?

Friday, June 25, 2010

Anthony Rotunno, and the culture of "accountability" at Tweed: read "anything goes"

Today's Daily News reports that Anthony Rotunno, who retired as principal of Kennedy HS last month, allowed staffers to improperly spend money from student bake sales on parties, among other financial improprieties, according to a new audit from State Comptroller DiNapoli:

In a particularly egregious abuse, Kennedy staffers blew more than $7,000 on four retirement parties at suburban eateries, the audit found.

"This was the students' money," DiNapoli said. "They raised it selling cupcakes and asking for donations. The students worked hard to raise this money. Whoever is responsible should be punished."

The audit, covering the period July 2007 to June 2009, found that Kennedy staffers misused or stole $91,216.

The report pins blame squarely on Rotunno's shoulders. "The Kennedy principal did not establish basic accountability for student funds," the report says.

Not mentioned in the article is how Rotunno was a long favorite of DOE, whose job was protected by them, despite questionable practices of long standing. Here is an excerpt from a 2004 puff piece in the NY Times, lauding his “tough guy” approach to turning

Behind this makeover was Mr. Rotunno and his formula for fixing a school of 5,000, a mix of infusing fun and school spirit into the school day and a determined effort to weed out students standing in the way of improvement…. teachers -- some of them Kennedy graduates still cherishing memories of the school's glory days of science awards and Ivy League acceptance letters in the 1970's and 80's -- generally agree: the school has turned the corner.

But actually teachers despised Rotunno, and in 2005 charges were made by many English teachers at the school that he had improperly student Regents scores to passing. When the DOE finally finished their “investigation” they concluded that he did change scores, but that this was perfectly okay. So much for accountability at DOE!

Here is what the much-missed former education columnist Michael Winerip wrote in 2006 about the resolution of these allegations, backed up by written evidence of changed scores:

[David Cantor] said that the inquiry had looked only into whether the principal, Anthony Rotunno, had the right to change the Regents grades and found that he did….

So far, only one person has been punished, Maria Colon, Kennedy's union representative, who was the first to speak out publicly about the changed scores. She was removed from Kennedy and assigned to a holding room pending a hearing on her case. Her crime? She allegedly used a school fax to send a Newsday reporter documents revealing the scoring changes.

A few months later, Winerip wrote a follow-up column, called "Cheapening the Cap and Gown," about new accusations made by guidance counselors that Rotunno had allowed kids to graduate without the required credits:

Ms. Werner [a guidance counselor] said, "They started giving out credits like candy." Global history is a four-term course spread over two years, and Ms. Diaz and Ms. Werner say they saw transcripts for students who had failed four terms of global history and were given credit for all four courses after passing the global Regents exam.

This reporter obtained copies of transcripts (with names blanked out) from a teacher who requested anonymity for fear of retribution. In one case, a student who failed three semesters of global history classes starting in January 2003 was given credit for those courses after passing the state global history Regents exam with a 65 in January 2005. A student who failed freshman English 1 and 2 in 2002-03 was given credit for those courses after passing the English Regents with a 68 in January 2005.

In an interview in February, Mr. Rotunno said the policy was not new, just a clarification of an existing policy that went back to the school's beginning.

Despite these new allegations, Rotunno stayed on, and the guidance counselors who spoke up in defense of standards lost their jobs.

The culture of so-called “accountability” at DOE, meaning principals can basically do anything as long as they produce better test scores and higher graduation rates, may have made Rotunno believe he was invulnerable in other ways as well.

Unfortunately, a policy of nearly unregulated credit recovery has been instituted throughout the city; and giving out credits “like candy” is now encouraged as the primary means to improve your school’s statistics, save your own job, and possibly get a bonus besides. (See this article about credit recovery as practiced at Tilden HS, which is closing.)

The new audit is just one more in a growing list of revelations from the State Comptroller, the City Comptroller, and the Special Commissioner of Investigation Condon, showing millions of dollars of stolen and misused funds because of lax financial oversight by DOE, the results of Tweed’s “anything goes” attitude towards principal “empowerment”.

Thursday, June 24, 2010

Leadership, empowerment and accountability according to the Chancellor...not to mention tax fraud

Richard Brescia, former Director of Performance Management and Talent Development at DOE, pled guilty to tax fraud.

Meanwhile, check out the following, still posted on the DOE website as of tonight:

Chancellor's Fellowship Program

In every great organization, leadership talent matters. Over the past eight years, the Department of Education has improved student achievement by creating a set of core values based on leadership, empowerment, and accountability. Accountability is the cornerstone of great leadership and the best leaders empower others to do their best. Sustaining success is clearly dependent on having the highest quality leaders in the city’s classrooms and schools. Equally important are the leaders in the DOE’s central offices.

In 2008, the DOE launched the first Chancellor’s Fellowship Program as the Chancellor’s personal commitment to developing the most outstanding managerial talent in the DOE’s central and administrative offices. Due to the success of the inaugural program, the DOE will again sponsor the Chancellor’s Fellowship in 2009-2010…..

…..To submit an application, applicants must download the Candidate Application, enter their personal information, complete the application electronically, save the file, and email it to Richard Brescia at by October 9, 2009.

Assembly member Gottfried on the pro-charter mailing sent out by ERN without his consent

See Assembly Member Gottfried's response to Jan Carr's email to him, about the pro-charter school flyer she received in the mail sent by the charter lobbyists Education Reform Now in his name:

I am appalled about the "Education Reform Now" mailing, because it utterly misrepresents my position.

I do not support charter schools, and have spoken out frequently against them. I support a long list of proposals to rein them in, make them treat teachers and students more fairly, provide transparency, prevent crowding out public schools, etc. etc. I voted for the charter school bill because it includes many of those important changes. For me, the part of the bill that increased the limit on the number of charter schools was a regrettable price to pay for the valuable parts of the bill. I felt we were destined to lose the fight to keep the number down anyway.

The "Education Reform Now" people supported the bill for the opposite reason. I understand they have sent out these dishonest mailings in the districts of many legislators who voted for the bill for the reasons I did.

The implication of what you wrote above is that these flyers were mailed out without his permission; AM Gottfried, is that an accurate interpretation of your statement?

Yes. I understand that the mailer was sent in the name of ERN, not in my name. The prominence of my name and photo give the impression that it was “in (my) name.” The mailer was sent without my involvement, knowledge, or consent or that of anyone on my behalf. If I had had any prior knowledge of it, I would have vehemently objected to it.

Have you seen the flyers? Exactly how do the claims on the flyer mistake your position? Have you been in contact with ERN about this issue, asking them to halt their mailings?

I have been in Albany since the mailer hit, and so I have not actually seen it. I have been told that it implies that I support charter schools, which is not true. My chief of staff called ERN and expressed my strong objection to the mailing and asked that they halt further mailings of this nature.

One more question, and I hope you do not take this as a slight on your integrity or honesty. There has been alot of discussion on the NYC Education list serv and elsewhere about the piles of money ERN and Democrats for Education Reform have offered elected officials and candidates, under their names and also those of the hedge fund operators whose contributions they "bundle" . Some candidates have reported publicly and in private that they were offered $200,000 to support charter school expansion.

See for example, the statements of Steve Behar, running for Assembly in Queens; and Tony Avella, a candidate for the State Senate, who reportedly has also told supporters he was offered a lot of money to change his position on this issue but refused.

Have you been promised and/or received any substantial contributions from these groups or individuals? And if you are in the future, would you accept these donations?

I have not been offered, promised or received any contribution from these groups. If any individual contributor to my campaign is associated with such a group, I am not aware of it. If in the future anyone were to offer me a campaign contribution under circumstances suggesting that they were doing so because they thought I support charter schools, I would correct their misunderstanding. While I may accept a contribution even though I disagree with a donor on an issue, I would not accept a contribution from a single-issue organization such as these where I strongly disagree with the organization.

Thanks so much for clarifying your position,

Thank you for asking. Richard Gottfried

Parents who have received a similar pro-charter mailing in the name of your legislators; please reach out to them and ask them these or similar questions. The influence and money of the charter school industry is frightening.

Wednesday, June 23, 2010

Open letter to AM Gottfried re charter school cap

Dear Assemblymember Gottfried:

I just received a big glossy flier that I assumed was from your office trumpeting the lifting of the charter cap. When I looked more closely, I saw that it was paid for by Education Reform Now.

I am a constituent and have appreciated your work on many fronts. But I'm upset to see that you're in bed with a cabal of hedge fund multi-millionaires masquerading as education reformers.

What is their interest in education? What spoils do they hope to reap? Contracts for testing and data? Real estate tax deals? When they thank you for "giving New York the opportunity to win $700 million in federal aid for our kids" I can almost see them salivating at the prospect of getting their mitts on those millions. And of course that will be much easier for them to do when schools are no longer subject to public school oversight.

It is NOT true, as the flier claims that "These schools are proven to work, with higher test scores and graduation rates." I trust you know as well as I do that charter schools cherry pick their students, taking only students who have AND MAINTAIN high test scores, that they don't educate ELLs, and that the tests results have been manipulated beyond meaning.

I've been a NYC public school parent for 10 years, and it sickens me to see these "re-formers" work so stealthily to systematically dismantle our public school system. It sickens me to see them demonize hard-working teachers who actually know something about education and care about our city's students.

Why are you in bed with them?

Sincerely, Jan Carr

A list of NY State elected officials who have received the largest contributions from the charter school lobby is posted at Albany Citizen One, though Gottfried's name is not among them -- yet.

Monday, June 21, 2010

Resolution to Change First Day of School, September 2010

UPDATE: Chancellor Klein ultimately decided to leave the first day of school as Wednesday, September 8th. Thursday and Friday will be school holidays and school will resume on Monday, September 13th.

I've heard from hundreds of parents who want to move the first day of school in September from Wednesday, September 8th 2010 to the following Monday. As it stands, we start school Wednesday and then have a four day weekend. There is an email campaign to the Chancellor but he has yet to respond or even acknowledge the issue. Unless we hear from the DOE, I will introduce the resolution below at tomorrow's PEP meeting:

Resolution Regarding the First Day of School, September 2010
Patrick J. Sullivan, Manhattan Member, Panel for Educational Policy
June 21st, 2010

Whereas the current school calendar school begins on Wednesday, September 8th and is followed by two days of school closures before resuming on Monday, September 13th and

Whereas many public school families make arrangements to secure childcare for their children during the summer and may face financial or logistical hardships to terminate this care and arrange for care outside of the single, midweek school day and

Whereas young children, especially entering Kindergartners, will be confused by the single day creating a more difficult transition and

Whereas the mayor and chancellor have cited absenteeism as a significant problem and recently launched a dedicated task force to combat it and

Whereas a single school day followed by a four day weekend is likely to result in higher rate of absences and

Whereas the high rate of absences will likely necessitate the complete repetition of Wednesday’s orientation and lesson materials when students return on the following Monday and

Whereas this schedule was developed without input from the community the schools are designed to serve and

Whereas the calendar contains a number of professional development and chancellor's special holidays (e.g. "Brooklyn-Queens Day") that would be more obvious and appropriate days to hold instruction, therefore let it be

Resolved, the Panel for Educational Policy calls upon the chancellor to closely scrutinize the public school calendar and seek ways to shift the first day of school to Monday, September 13th, 2010.

Rhee Remarks Rile Klein

June 21, 2010 (GBN News): NY City Schools Chancellor Joel Klein is reportedly livid over the tone of a recent Daily News op ed by his Washington DC counterpart. In the article, DC Chancellor Michelle Rhee turns the tables on her former mentor by suggesting that Mr. Klein should learn from the way she negotiated her recent contract with the Washington Teachers Union. While Mr. Klein has publicly praised the contract, newly revealed emails between the two chancellors tell a different story. GBN News obtained the following transcript:

Klein email to Rhee: You have some nerve telling me what to do. I’ve been in this job a lot longer than you.

Rhee response: So what if you’ve been around longer than me? As you’ve said yourself, seniority means nothing, it’s effectiveness that counts. I’m the one who came up with an effective contract, not you.

Klein: Listen, you young whippersnapper, I got you that job, I made you into what you are. How can you show me up in public like that? How do you think I feel?

Rhee: Oh, you poor baby, getting all touchy feely now. I'm like, you know what, I don't give a crap. In this business, you live by the sword, you die by the sword. I’m the innovator now, and you’re just another “defender of the status quo”.

Klein: OK, Ms. Broomstick, have it your way. But mark my words, wait till another young innovator comes around. Then it’ll be your job on the line.

Rhee: I don’t think so, Mr. Blackberry. Remember, if they try to replace me, they lose millions from those foundations that won’t give DC schools a cent unless I stay in this job. So I guess some seniority rights are just worth a lot more than others.

Sunday, June 20, 2010

Is Malaysia ahead of the US on testing?

They may totally abolish standardized exams, according to Education Minister Tan Sri Muhyiddin Yassin, since “The main objectives of education is for children to gain knowledge in a holistic manner - where creativity, innovation and interaction thrive.”

Where are our national figures with this sort of insight?

One thing for sure about Wendy Kopp

There's a good summary by Teacher Ken at Daily Kos here of a new book by Barbara Torre Veltri, called Learning on Other People's Kids: Becoming a Teach For America Teacher. There's a good summary by Teacher Ken at Daily Kos here.

The book adds to the growing body of critical evidence about TFA. This includes the excellent article by Barbara Miner in Rethinking Schools, (registration necessary); and the policy brief, Teach For America: A False Promise, by the Education and the Public Interest Center (EPIC) at the University of Colorado and the Education Policy Research Unit (EPRU) at Arizona State University.

A statistic from Teacher Ken's review of the Veltri book that caught my eye:

Veltri provides a table using data from TFA, showing that in 2006-06 the 4,700 corps members were served with an operating budget of $39,500,000, while for 2009-10 the projected figures were 7,300 corps members with an operating budget of $160,000,000. Let's put those numbers on a per capita basis. In 2005-06 the cost per corps member was $8,400, while in 2009-10 it had ballooned to $21,917, or more than half what most teachers in this country make in their first year. I question whether that is money well spent.

One thing is for sure; Wendy Kopp is incredibly gifted at raising money.

Saturday, June 19, 2010

Letters to the Times re high-stakes tests

Five letters were published in today's NY Times -- all pointing out flaws in their June 18 editorial about test-tampering, “That Cheats the Kids.” I wrote one of the letters about how the editorial completely missed the point about high-stakes testing -- that it makes the results unreliable. It is the system imposed by the city and increasingly the federal government that cheats our children; not the teachers.

Another illegal move by DOE: expansion of Harlem Success Academy 3

The below letter from Rose Jimenez, member of the CEC in D4 in E. Harlem and head of the PTA at PS 375, (Mosaic Prep Academy) is addressed to Jonas Chartock, the head of the SUNY Charter Institute, as well as Pedro Noguera, head of the charter committee for SUNY, about the expansion of Harlem Success Academy 3 in the PS 375 building. This SUNY committee has to authorize any such expansion, and hearings on this matters are taking place Monday, June 21 at 141 E 111 ST at 5:30 PM; come by 5 PM if you want to speak.

Dear Mr. Chartock and Prof. Noguera:

As a parent at Mosaic Prep Academy (PS 375) and a member of the Community Education Council in District 4 in East Harlem, I do not understand how the SUNY Charter School Institute could consider allowing Harlem Success Academy 3, a school that is co-located in our building, to revise its charter to substantially expand from 363 students to 468 students next fall.

Any such expansion would obviously require a significant change in our school building’s utilization, without any of the public procedures outlined in the school governance law having been implemented.

As I’m sure you are aware, the governance law, A8903, requires that any significant change in public school utilization in New York City must be preceded by an Educational Impact Statement issued at least six months before the start of the new school year, as well as a joint hearing of the DOE, the CEC and the School Leadership Team at the affected school; and finally, a vote of the Panel for Educational Policy.

None of these events have occurred in this case, and in fact, it is too late for the DOE or SUNY to allow any expansion of the school to occur without warning so late in the school year, unless these additional students would attend classes elsewhere in a non-DOE building.

A SUNY hearing on the expansion and charter revision of Harlem Success Academy 3 is due to occur this Monday, June 21, at 5:30 PM.

I would very much like to hear from you before that time as to how SUNY could countenance such a potentially illegal expansion.

Yours sincerely,

Rose Jimenez, CEC District 4 and PS 375 Parent Association President

Friday, June 18, 2010

Helen Marshall says there's no more school overcrowding in Queens!

Check out what Queens Borough President Helen Marshall said on WNYC radio on Tuesday about school overcrowding by clicking here.

Meanwhile, according to official DOE data (which most experts think underestimates the problem), 67 percent of elementary school children in Queens attended overcrowded schools; and 77 percent of high school students. And this does not count thousands of students in trailers.

Class sizes are still increasing rapidly throughout the borough, and as of this March, nearly 800 Queens children were on waiting lists for their zoned Kindergartens.

If you are a Queens parent or teacher, and you think school overcrowding is still a serious problem, send her an email at, with a copy to her education adviser, RoseAnne Darche, at and her PEP appointee, Dmytro Fedkowskyj at

Thursday, June 17, 2010

Billionaire Boys Club moves to expand

'Time to give it up,' Buffett and Gates tell the super-rich

We say, please don't! Public education cannot withstand any more damage.

Wednesday, June 16, 2010

Shutting out parents, and how it must stop!

Education Week just published an article I co-authored with Julie Woestehoff of Chicago’s PURE called Shutting Out Parents: Obama's Disappointing Blueprint for Reform, about how the US Department of Education has completely excluded parents and our ideas from their education agenda, including the need for smaller classes and more parental involvement.

The only instance in which parent involvement in decisionmaking is mentioned in Duncan’s entire blueprint for ESEA is to require that the parents of Native American children be included in the design of programs at the school level. (!!)

Though the U.S. Department of Education calls many of their proposals “innovation,” we see them as representing large-scale experiments on our children—experiments lacking a foundation in research and implemented without informed parental consent—something that would never be allowed in fields such as medicine.

It is a shortened version of a letter we sent last month to the President and Congress, signed by parent leaders across America.

Please send your own message to DC policymakers, by signing our NEW petition to Obama and Congress, Put the Parent Voice Back in Public Education, if you agree.

Tuesday, June 15, 2010

Another disappointing study on extended time

Yet another negative study that finds that extended time made little difference in terms of achievement or teacher attitudes.

This one, from Abt Associates, examined the results of the much-touted Massachusetts expanded learning time initiative, which provides state funding to selected schools to increase their class time 25-30% over the district average.

So far the research is quite thin that this is the answer to low student achievement, despite the fact that the Gates folks (and their think tanks) continue to push it.

In a summary of the studies on extended time in "School Reform Proposals: The Research Evidence”, noted researcher Gene Glass found that increases in the time allocated for schooling would be expensive and would not produce appreciable gains in academic achievement – especially as compared to smaller classes. Glass concluded:

”Within reason, the productivity of the schools is not a matter of the time allocated to them. Rather it is a matter of how they use the time they already have.”

Yet even when citing the Abt study, Elena Silva of Education Sector persists in claiming, “Research on the need for expanded learning opportunities for low-income kids is incontrovertible—without extra learning achievement gaps are sure to persist.”

Really? As yet another review of the literature on extended time concluded a few years ago:

“Research reveals a complicated relationship between time and learning and suggests that improving the quality of instructional time is at least as important as increasing the quantity of time in school.”

Indeed, the quality of classroom time, not quantity, is what counts most. Guess who wrote the above statement in 2007? Elena Silva of Education Sector.

Where’s the accountability that mayoral control was supposed to bring?

According to the NY Times, "Next year, the city will spend an estimated $296 million on school safety, a $5.4 million increase. In 2008, the budget was roughly $204 million."

Meanwhile, the Chancellor blames the increased spending on the police; and the Police Department (more believably) says the decision about how much to spend was made by DOE.

Where is the mayor on this? Missing in action.

Send a message to the Regents about harmful changes in special ed

The Board of Regents are considering adopting a number of "cost-savings" changes to special ed, including increasing the number of special needs students that can be enrolled in CTT or inclusion classes.

More and more in recent years, DOE is pushing students with disabilities into these classes, with no evidence that that they will meet their need for extra attention and support.

Right now, there can be only 40 percent sped students in these classes. CTT classes are already too big in NYC schools, even with two teachers; they are allowed to be as large as regular gened classes, with as many as 25 students in Kindergarten and up to 34 students per class in high school.

The ARISE coalition has written a letter to the Regents, pointing out how many of the proposed changes will be harmful. Among their comments: studies have been conducted or offered to demonstrate whether the current ratios and class size limits for integrated co-teaching are even effective and whether students with disabilities in those settings are making the educational strides anticipated. How can NYSED propose altering those ratios and limits without conducting such research?
Not surprisingly, Chancellor Klein supports these changes.

Send a message to the Regents now; let them that these proposed policies are simply unacceptable. You can find their contact information here.

Did Alex Russo really say this?

In his discussion of the recent article in the NY Times about the reported increase in cheating in tests, the likely result of the intense pressure placed on teachers to improve scores, he wrote:

So: more coverage, but not necessarily more actual cheating. And no real case for causality, either, since so many of the tests kids take have little or no effect on their lives (or, I would argue, the lives and careers of most teachers and educators).

One really has to wonder what universe he's living in...

Diane Ravitch asks: "Are we in an age of National Stupidity or National Insanity?"

In her latest posting, The Great Accountability Hoax, Ravitch points out that the so-called "accountability" policies being promoted by the Billionaire Boy's Club, the foundations, and now the Obama administration are a "great fraud and hoax, but our elected officials and policymakers remain completely oblivious to the harm caused by the policies they mandate."

Not only has the Chicago program of teacher merit pay proven to be ineffective, but a recent study shows that the similar NYC experiment that the administration spent $38 million on last year has shown no positive results:
"...we find little effect of the bonus program on student achievement in the first or second year of the program. We find no discernible effect on in-class or school-wide policies reported by students and teachers, such as additional tutoring sessions or increased use of student achievement data. Finally, we show that the bonus program had little effect on teacher turnover or the qualifications of newly hired teachers."
Roland Fryer's much bally-hooed experiments with paying kids for good test scores also failed miserably.

Nevertheless, the US Dept. of Education insists on increasing funding for merit pay through the Teacher Incentive Fund program to $900 million next year!

It appears that no amount of negative results will stop the privateers from continuing to promote their wasteful experiments on our kids in the name of "accountability," without acknowledging how their own behavior exhibits a failure of both financial and moral accountability.

Monday, June 14, 2010

Mike: Don’t Blame BP, Blame Teachers

June 14, 2010 (GBN News): NY City Mayor Michael Bloomberg today reiterated his assertion that BP executives should not be blamed for the ongoing Gulf oil spill. But this time he went even further, telling reporters at a City Hall news conference that accountability should be laid squarely on the shoulders of those who are truly responsible– the teachers unions.

Asked by a reporter how teachers could be held responsible for the disaster when they have nothing whatsoever to do with oil drilling, the Mayor snapped, “I’ve had enough of their whining about accountability.” As the reporter was hustled out of the room by the Mayor’s security detail, Mr. Bloomberg continued, “Good teachers can make up for problems in children’s environment, like poverty, poor nutrition, lack of parental involvement, absenteeism and drug use. If their unions weren’t blocking reform, c’mon, teachers would certainly be able to deal with a little environmental problem like oil in the Gulf.”

Reaction to the Mayor’s statement was swift. A NY Post editorial praised the Mayor’s stance towards the teachers unions as “courageous”, and went on to say that, “If the teachers had spent as much energy capping the well as they did on capping the charter schools, this whole thing never would have happened.”

Meanwhile, Education Secretary Arne Duncan suggested that Mr. Bloomberg’s statements point up a bright side to the oil spill. “This situation might be even better for our school system than Katrina,” Mr. Duncan told GBN News. “Because now the teachers unions will finally have to stop making excuses and realize they can’t avoid true accountability.”

In a related story, newly released e-mails suggest that at the urging of charter school magnate Eva Moskowitz, Schools Chancellor Joel Klein has reportedly promised to relocate some New York City public schools to offshore oil rigs to make room for Ms. Moskowitz’ Harlem Success Academy schools.