This was very difficult to judge because there were so many foul-ups, so many fiascos. It is hard to say which was the absolute worst: the school bus re-routing, the ARIS supercomputer, the credit recovery contribution to raising the graduation rate, the "end of social promotion," the report cards, the pre-K admissions mess, the middle school admissions mess, the gifted and talented admissions mess, the quality reviews, the mindless obsession with test scores, on and on.
All contributed to turning the New York City school system into a new and painful version of 52 Pick-Up. But this game is not funny. It is only funny when Gary Babad writes the press releases, even if they are fake.
Two nominations had to be excluded because while they were powerful, they were not the work of Tweed: one, Norm Scott's suggestion that turning the education system over to a politician was the original disastrous mistake; and two, the suggestion (by anonymous) that hiring a non-educator as chancellor was another disastrous error. The first, as Norm notes, was the decision of the Legislature; the second was the choice of the Mayor.
So, the fastest way to whittle down the list of finalists is to restrict them to those who signed their name to their choice. That makes for a very short list, which is indicative of the fear that people in this city have to openly criticize those in power. This in itself is indicative of the terrible change, the repression of open discussion, that the new regime has introduced into our civic life.
Faced with a very short list of people who were willing or able to sign their names, I award the grand prize to Diana Senechal, who selected the "workshop model" as her biggest blunder. I take it that the blunder was the effort to impose a single method of teaching, in the absence of any genuine curriculum. This blunder was itself indicative of the arrogance of power, the belief that these non-educators could tell every teacher in the system how to teach. From that same arrogance flowed all the other blunders and fiascos, all recognized by teachers and parents, but unacknowledged at 52 Chambers Street as errors.
-- Diane Ravitch