Sunday, May 24, 2009

Dueling opeds in today's Daily News on Mayoral control

See the great oped by Arthur Goldstein in today’s Daily News against Mayoral control:

Absolute power corrupts absolutely. Our federal and state governments have checks and balances so no one person has total control, which is a synonym for dictatorship. City kids need reasonable class sizes and decent facilities. Under Mayor Bloomberg, class sizes just took their biggest leap in 10 years.

An oped from the opposite point of view by Marc Sternberg, the principal of Bronx Lab is here, with the headline “Accountability saved my dying school.” The truth is very different, of course.

Bronx Lab is one of the small schools that replaced Evander Childs, a large failing school in the Bronx. Yet rather than save Evander Childs, DOE allowed it to die, and instead opened new schools with completely different types of students in its place.

As Eduwonkette noted in 2007, before Evander had been finally closed:

On every dimension, the Evander incoming 9th graders are lagging behind academically - they are more likely to be in special education or to be classified as ELL, they are much more likely to be overage for their grade (i.e. they had been retained before), their attendance rates in junior high school were much lower, and they were much less likely to be proficient in reading and math.

Of particular note is the praise showered on Bronx Lab at the end of the 2004-2005 school year - see this NY Times article - but 46.6% of their kids were proficient in reading and 52.7% in math when they walked in the door, while Evander's entering students passed at rates of only 11.1% in reading and 12.8% in math. How did the reporter miss this? ….Comparing these schools is either incredibly foolish or incredibly dishonest - and I don't think the folks running NYC schools are foolish.”

What else? Oh yes, according to the DOE’s statistics, Bronx Lab has class sizes this year ranging from 13 to 25. Meanwhile, most of our large high schools – including the one that Arthur Goldstein teaches at – continue to have class sizes of 34, and the DOE refuses to help them improve by giving them the space and resources to reduce class size, despite a state mandate that would require this.

In fact Joel Klein recently said that if he had his way, he would shrink the teaching force by 30% -- which would consign the schools attended by most of our neediest students to class sizes of 45 or more.

This is the future we face, if Bloomberg and Klein are left unimpeded by any checks and balances, as is currently recommended by the billionaire boys club of Bloomberg, Eli Broad, Bill Gates, Mort Zuckerman and Rupert Murdoch. None of whom, incidentally, would ever send their own children to a school where class sizes are larger than fifteen.


Arthur Goldstein said...

Thanks so much for your kind words about my article, as well as your excellent response to the other side. I was hoping someone would write something like that.

I too was surprised by the chancellor's announcement about teachers. That was remarkable.

Patrick J. Sullivan said...

Goldstein is a hero for speaking up for the teachers and students crammed into Bloomberg's overcrowded classrooms. Albany needs to hear more voices like his.