Sunday, June 8, 2008

Please nominate Tweed's greatest foul-ups! from Diane Ravitch

Six years into mayoral control, it is time for an accounting.

For the sake of history and memory, can we begin to compile a Directory of Tweed's Greatest Foul-Ups? Parents and others; please contribute your nominees for this distinction by posting them on the comment section of this blog.

Here is a start:

1. The re-routing of bus routes in January 2007, leaving thousands of kids in the cold.

2. The centralization of Pre-K admissions in June 2008, leaving many children without seats.

3. The centralization of middle school admissions in June 2008, leaving many students not knowing where they would be going to school.

4. The revision of admission to Gifted programs, reducing access to these programs in many communities.

More? Criteria:

Describe the snafu. What year? Explain why it mattered. Not more than a couple of paragraphs.

The decision of the judge will be final, and the full list of nominations will be posted on the NYC education news list-serve and this blog.

The winner receives an autographed copy of "The Great School Wars: A History of Public Education in NYC."

-- Diane Ravitch


Leonie Haimson said...

How about ARIS -- a "super computer" costing $80 million that still doesn't work -- and that had no protections against data leakage so that even more money had to be spent to protect confidential information from being divulged.

The fact that DOE was willing to pay such a huge amount was widely derided by experts in the hi tech field and called a "super-mugging" -- who also made predictions at the time that it would experience lots of technical problems.

For more on how Jim Liebman et al were taken for a ride, just plug the words "super-mugging" and ARIS into the search function on this blog or on google; also " How to Feel Better About Your Data Warehouse Fiasco."

Anonymous said...

The Report Cards. They are total BS.

parent4ArtsEd said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
parent4ArtsEd said...

Let's add the elimination of dedicated funding for arts education to the list.

With the goal of giving principals greater discretion over how they spend school funds the administration eliminated Project Arts in 2007 which provided approximately $65 per student of dedicated funding for arts education at every school each year.

At the time, the administration argued that freed from constraints principals would spend even more on the arts--a curious claim given that the accountability measures and financial bonuses for principals and teachers employed by the administration are overwhelmingly tied to test scores in just two subject areas.

Nationwide, schools are spending more time testing students in reading and math and less time ensuring students receive phys. ed., foreign languages and the arts. With decreased funding and greater incentives to teach to the tests, it should come as no surprise that arts education at city schools is suffering as well.

Anonymous said...

I nominate the "workshop model."

There is nothing wrong with conducting certain classes like a workshop. There is something deeply wrong with mandating this model and dictating the format and timing. The workshop model typically centers around a "strategy," which the teacher presents and models in a 10-minute mini-lesson. The students then practice the "strategy" in groups (or at times individually) while the teacher circulates to assist students and hold "mini-conferences."

Of course, teachers find ways to work around it. Literature, grammar, phonics, and writing demand time for instruction, class discussion, and individual thought. Constant group work brings the overall level down. Teachers know this and mix the workshop model with other approaches. Yet the mandates seep into everything: "professional development" sessions, portfolios, evaluations, professional publications, ed school courses, classroom libraries, and more. Working around the model is not enough; it will work our way back around us. We need great curriculum and the freedom to teach it.

Diana Senechal

Anonymous said...

Credit Recovery..."Absent 20+ days? No homeworks? Dismal test scores? Never studying? Poor behavior? Relax. Give me two, five paragraph essays and all is forgiven...Okay, four paragraphs...Okay, one essay... Okay, forget it, just give me that pencil over there...No, the one with the eraser. Congratulations."

Pissedoffteacher said...

I'd like to add data analysis. so much analysis, nothing being done with it.

Also, merit pay is another winner.

Anonymous said...

I forgot to include the year of the workshop model. It was first implemented in 2003 and continues to the present, with lots of contracts awarded to Teachers College and other organizations.

Diana Senechal

Gary Babad said...

How about when Joel Klein named Donald Rumsfeld head of Pupil Transportation after the bus route debacle? And then Rumsfeld said, "You go to school with the buses you have, not the buses you'd like to have". Talk about rubbing salt into the wound. Oh, wait a minute - that was one of my parodies. Never mind!

Unknown said...

Creating "Regions" and then disbanding them..along with all the newly created "regional" positions (LIS, RIS etc.)...and now LSOs. What's next?

Anonymous said...

How about the Cambridge evaluations of schools? Top shelf accommodations, reviewers from a different culture; to sit in for 3 days to complete evaluations based on data, interviews from select respondents and staff, classroom evals.

For the costs incurred - did they really absorb the school culture during " show time"; did they care that the previous recommendations in some schools were implemented in name only and have no function?, that PTA/ PA's can be 5 minutes of parent opportunity piggybacking on a school activity?

Did they notice the double periods of Math or English and the regents classes that require two years of course study are only a single period?
The regent’s classes that are offered are just classes for some as the schools actually allow only a small percentage of students to take the regents?
Curb appeal evaluations are an expense that fails to include real time school experience; rejects the paid professionals in education to be part of the process, the narratives offered come with a high price tag for a counterfeit glimpse.

There is a whole city of parents, educators and students protesting, rallying, meeting, holding vigils........Has DOE resorted to reverse psychology to get more parents involved & engaged? If all else fails they can take that road and claim yet another accomplishment.

Anonymous said...

Ross Global Academy, a charter school launched in the basement of Tweed in fall 2006 with beaucoup bucks from a billionaire. Two years later they have just lost their fifth principal, who allegedly took home students' state math tests, along with a grading key. See the New York Sun article Charter School at Tweed Probed for Test Tampering.

Despite the best efforts of hardworking and talented teachers, the school is beset with violence, complete failure to implement any sort of disciplinary rules, high staff turnover, squandering of money, and no adherence to curriculum.

RGA exemplifies the movement to dismantle public education by diverting its resources toward private business entities. Klein has an educational purgatory literally under his feet.

I know whereof I write--my son attended RGA during its hopeful opening days, until I withdrew him one month later when it had become painfully obvious that the school's incompetent, dilettante administration would never get control of the chaos.

Let's hope that it closes before it can do any more damage, and that the kids who go there find safe, decent schools in their neighborhoods.

Anonymous said...

Hiring poor principals. For example, placing someone with only large school experience in a small school. Leaders pick teachers, teachers of quality make much of/all the difference. Many the new principals struggle to select strong teachers and have no idea how to empower those they do have and retain them. Can I pin this fiasco on Tweed?

I suppose they are admitting to it with their new centralized principal candidate pool. That too will be a fiasco. Schools who have a strong professional and academic culture will not be allowed to hire from within. They might just get a principal who destroys what makes the school work.

They could have used the money for ARIS of the Cambridge folks to insure that they had the most incredible selection of principals.

#2. Getting rid of parent councils who were charged with decision making power. This we have to take back! I appreciate all of the folks who advocate in and around the DOE - so many of you on this blog - for the issues that most matter to parents.

Would we have centralized admissions for elementary school around the corner for example, if these councils were in place? Among many, many other things. That one is just weighing on my shut our of pre-k parental mind.

ed notes online said...

The number 1 foul-up? The very idea of handing complete control of the school system to a politician.

Sorry, that was the state legislature and all the mayoral control supporters.

Let's see now. So many choices, so little time.

I heard the funniest line in a school last week when a teacher came to the computer teacher and said, "I need help because I can't access my predictables."

I still have contacts in tech since I worked in that area for 15 years.

So, here's one not generally known: The total chaos in the computer and tech area as each reorganization created mayhem and people and offices were moved like chess pieces. Enormous sums have been wasted on greedy vendors who pedal their wares knowing full well there are millions that have to be spent.

Here is one are where I can guarantee that the old district computer support structure worked 100% better than what ever mish mosh they have now - and don't be surprised if they change it again because nothing they have done has worked.


Anonymous said...

Hiring Joel Klein, who knew nothing about education, to "fix" the schools.

Chaz said...

The ATR crises. 81 million dollars wasted while the students are deprived of experienced teachers.

Patrick J. Sullivan said...

The retention policies in 3rd, 5th and 7th grade. When the 8th grade retention policy was approved this year, the DOE said 18,000 children were at risk of failing the criteria. How can the mayor and chancellor claim to have stopped social promotion when so many kids are now unprepared for high school? Now consider that thousands of children have repeated a year or more of school at a cost of 17-18 thousand a year. That money -- hundreds of millions of dollars -- could have instead been spent on early interventions and policies like smaller classes that actually have been proven to work.

Anonymous said...

Testing and re-testing and removing the Love of Learning from the classroom. This will have the greatest impact upon the greatest number, the children used as test pilots without parachutes.

Leonie Haimson said...

All you people who are posting as "anonymous" -- please leave a fake name at least and an email address where we can reach you if you win the contest and we need to send you an autographed copy of Diane's book!

Or contact me online at and let me know who you are!


Anonymous said...

Chancellor Klein and Mayor Bloomberg thought they had good intentions in running schools. The reality is that they have failed miserably.
Bloopers include:
Longer day and longer year. Look what goes on each June in school. Students are bouncing off walls due to the complete lack of discipline.
Since no snow days were used this school year, schools should have been closed during the recent horrible heat wave. By the way, June 9th and June 10th were the Jewish holiday of Shavuoth and many Jewish teachers were absent anyway. The mayor and chancellor should lead by example and turned their air conditioners off.
Stop all this testing nonsense. School is supposed to produce a well-rounded child educationally speaking.
Stop with these teacher conferences. They're a complete waste. Assistant principals are supposed to monitor teachers.

Anonymous said...

Bloopers: No one bothers to investigate why teachers are retiring in record numbers, transferring to other school systems or just quitting the profession.
No one dares to advocate the return of the 600 school concept for the unruly. We have some mighty dangerous customers sitting in classes right now. Severely emotionally handicapped pupils don't belong in regular classes.

Anonymous said...

Klein, Mayoral Control,Leadership Academy, 37.5 Minutes,Parent Coordinators,Chief Mom Martine, Parent Support then changed to District Family Advocates (who didnt support and now dont advocate), Alvarez and Marshall, Diane Lam, Smaller High schools, Busing Changes, Central Prek Admissions,Central Gifted and Talented Admissions, Education Budget Cuts, $80 Million on ARIS, Quality Review, School Progress Reports, Instructional Assessments, Predictive Assessments,No bid contracts,Community District Education COuncils, From DIstricts to Regions then back to districts, Empowerment, Students and Teachers sweltering during the 2 day heatwave with more than enough mandated school days to close the school or have an early dismissal. School Leadership Chancellor's Regulation Changes mid year,Learning Enviorment survey, ignoring the need for smaller class sizes, ignoring parents and teachers, etc, etc. I'm sure I can go on, but it is 1:30 AM and want to get to sleep!

Anonymous said...

Oh here is another one....Everyday Math!!!!!!!!

Anonymous said...

There are only two "unifying principles" that can explain all of what Bloomberg/Klein have done: They simply are incompetent, or they needed to destroy the system before they could rebuild it under their business model. Unfortunately, these principles are not mutually exclusive.
So: successive shuffles to eliminate lateral relationships, controllable new principals and teachers, top-down policies and centralized testing, fear-based management with incentives based on test performance, reliance on outside consultants...and the many goofs that inevitably happen when experienced professionals are marginalized.