Friday, January 1, 2010

How Bloomberg, and the NY Times fail to listen to parents

The NY Times has an editorial on what they hope and expect from Bloomberg’s third term, which begins today. The section on education reveals how little the editors really understand about what has happened in the last eight years in our schools:
”After the State Legislature finally scrapped the board and gave the mayor control of the schools, he brought much-needed stability.”
Actually, there has been continual confusion and chaos under this administration, with repeated re-organizations, school closings, worsening overcrowding, Kindergarten students placed on wait-lists, changes in management structure, delayed and error-prone admissions processes, mid-year funding cuts, and all the rest.
"He has also swept away the bureaucratic underbrush..."

Here, the Times' credulousness comes into relief. This is one of the administration's most repeated claims, without any evidence to support it. Instead, new levels of bureaucracy have proliferated, with the establishment of the School Support Organizations, Senior Achievement Facilitators, Portfolio officers, Integrated Service Centers, Network leaders, data coaches, and a huge growth in the press office and accountability division at Tweed, not to mention all the other corporate-type positions that are continually created, even as schools are forced to make huge budget cuts to the classroom and the teaching force shrinks. Not to mention the hundreds of millions of dollars being spent annually on consultants and no-bid contracts.
“He also wants bad teachers out of the classroom and off the payroll.”

Of course, everyone wants bad teachers out of the classroom -- parents most of all. Yet by making principals pay for the salaries of their staff out of their own budgets, what the administration really appears intent on doing is getting experienced teachers out of the classroom, no matter what their quality. Why? Perhaps because they are paid more and because they tend to remember the way things used to be before Bloomberg and Klein, which causes them to resist the manipulation of test scores, the granting of credit recovery, and the myriad other ways in which pressure has been exerted on educators to lower standards -- all in the supposed name of improving results.

“In all, the mayor’s education policies have been a good thing for students...."

To the contrary, Bloomberg's top-down policies have not been helpful to students, with
class sizes rising, discharge numbers rising, test prep taking over our schools, art, music and science devalued and diminished, and parental involvement suppressed and repudiated at every turn.

“…but he and his school officials still have to spend more time listening to concerned parents.”

At least this one statement is correct, even as it understates the contempt that Bloomberg and Klein have shown for our views.

Yet if this editorial reveals anything, it is the need for the editors of the Times to spend more time listening to public school parents. It’s not clear from the above remarks that they have any idea of what we've been saying for the last eight years, or how the mayor’s priorities conflict with our desire for our children to attend safe, uncrowded schools with small classes, experienced teachers, along with art, physical education and all the other activities necessary for a well-rounded education. Or perhaps, they simply refuse to take our views seriously.

Let’s hope in 2010, they as well as Bloomberg begin to pay attention. It would be long overdue.

1 comment:

NYC Educator said...

Thanks for this clear answer to the so-called "paper of record," which has no more credibility than the tabloids on their editorial pages. I wonder whether all paper, liberal, conservative, or whatever, simply hate unions, and feel the need to print such gibberish whether or not they've researched it.

If they really cared one way or the other about education, they would've grabbed up Elizabeth Green when the Sun folded.