Monday, May 30, 2011
Sunday, May 29, 2011
This “accumulated advantage” over time was named the Matthew effect by sociologist Robert Merton, from the Biblical quotation in Matthew: “For to all those who have, more will be given, and they will have an abundance; but from those who have nothing, even what they have will be taken away.” The Matthew effect has also been shown in soccer, swimming, tennis, and major league baseball .
“From his analysis, Elder found that the youngest kindergarten kids were 60 per cent more likely to be diagnosed with ADHD than the oldest in the same grade, and also, by the time those groups reached the fifth and eighth grades, the youngest were more than twice as likely to be on prescription stimulants. Elder estimated that overall in the US, the misdiagnosis rate is about 1 in 5, that is around 900,000 of the 4.5 million children currently diagnosed with ADHD have been misdiagnosed.”
Thursday, May 26, 2011
May 26, 2011 (GBN News): Long suffering Mets fans may finally have found their knight in shining armor, when it was announced today that that hedge fund manager David Einhorn will be buying a substantial minority stake in the team. Mr. Einhorn, a member of the Board of Advisors for Democrats for Education Reform (DFER), told reporters that he will use his leverage to “turn around” the team using the same reform model his organization champions in the nation’s schools.
While Mr. Einhorn did not give any hint as to precisely what changes he will push for, GBN News has obtained a copy of the proposal he had presented to the Mets’ principal owner, Fred Wilpon. Highlights of Mr. Einhorn’s reform ideas, as gleaned from the proposal, are:
Given that the “traditional baseball manager” simply maintains the “status quo” in the sport, the team will lobby Major League Baseball to partner with philanthropist Eli Broad in setting up a “Managers’ Academy”. Based on the premise that “a good manager can manage anything”, the Academy will train managers from the business and legal fields to transfer their skills to directing a big league club.
In what one might think would be the most popular reform with fans, the Mets will immediately release half the team. However, the players slated to be fired will be the most experienced team members. To replace them, new players will be recruited through another initiative, “Play for New York”. Top high school and college graduates, whether or not they have ever played baseball, will be recruited from around the city, and after a six week training period, will join the major league club.
Most of the new players are not expected to last more than a year or two, but their sports experience will be a great resume builder for graduate school or positions in business, law, and other top fields. And, the team will save a substantial amount of money by keeping the payroll down to the big league minimum. The Mets will also save by dispensing with most of their farm system, since players will no longer need the years of training that the traditional minor leagues had provided.
Arguably the most important reform proposed would be the “value added” method of evaluating the success of the players and the manager. Through a grant from the Gates Foundation, a rating scale will quickly be developed so that by July 1, players would be expected to make what is termed “adequate daily progress”. If a player’s statistics do not improve over a three day period, the player will be released. Injuries or other factors such as not being in the lineup that day will be no excuse; players will be expected to perform.
The manager, too, will be held to a strict “value added” standard. If the team does not make “adequate daily progress”, the manager will be fired. However, if he is a “Managers Academy” graduate, he will be given a raise and moved into an administrative position.
When reached for comment by GBN News, Mr. Einhorn would not publicly confirm or deny any of the above plans. But in response to a question as to whether the Players Association would accept the new reforms, he said, “If the union doesn’t accept what we do, we’ll just threaten to move the team to New Jersey, where Chris Christie can just ‘take the bat out’ on them.”
Monday, May 23, 2011
The plan was said to have been modeled after the way the
According to sources at the DOE, Secretary Duncan seemed disappointed this morning that the world had not ended as promised. But his dour mood did not last long. By afternoon, he had already put on the President’s desk a new plan to bring the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) under the control of the Education Department. With the new plan, FEMA would respond to disasters such as floods, hurricanes, or terrorist attacks by immediately swooping in and privatizing the local school system.
While there was reportedly some objection from FEMA officials over the fact that the agency would no longer be able to provide disaster relief, emergency loans, or other assistance beyond school privatization, the Secretary stood by the plan. “It’s not about the adults,” he insisted. “It’s about the kids.”
Wednesday, May 18, 2011
Nearly half a million children currently attend overcrowded schools, one quarter of all elementary schools have waiting lists for Kindergarten, and due to residential development, the DOE admits that they will need at least 58,000 more seats over the next five years.
The state pays for half of all funds spent on new school construction. And yet DOE intends to build only 28,000 new seats, and Deputy Chancellor Grimm announced that they NEVER intend to replace the trailers that are already years past their lifetime and are rotting away.
But they do intend to spend a billion dollars on high speed internet and high definition video!
But the best statement is from Ernie Logan, head of the principals union, who represents the people supposedly "empowered" by DOE. Let's cross our fingers this lawsuit wins. But too bad Logan isn't the person empowered to make the decisions when it comes to closing schools!
“Chancellor Walcott is understandably outraged because students in our lowest-performing schools don’t have better options. But the underlying outrage should be, not that the UFT has filed suit to keep 20 schools open, rather that the DOE long ago chose to close schools rather than fix them. Over the last nine years, the city has systematically neglected many schools, usually in financially disadvantaged neighborhoods, offering them little supervision and support, then encouraging the Office of Student Enrollment to dump formerly incarcerated students, English Language Learners, special education youngsters and temporary housing children into those schools as if they had given up on them like some preordained underclass.“The new Chancellor should focus his considerable talents and attention on changing the DOE’s approach towards the lowest achieving schools and find a way to make them work. One of the reasons CSA has called for legislation on assessing any school identified as persistently failing is to ensure that no school close unnecessarily. It is a tragedy when a city admits failure so easily.”
There are still some seats available; join Dr. Diane Ravitch and parents, educators, community members and children from across the city for the film and discussion afterward! RSVP here.
If you cannot make the premiere on Thursday, there is also a screening on Saturday, May 21st at 7:00 PM at the 6th Street Community Center in Manhattan.
For more information If you want a copy of the film to hold a showing in your community, email firstname.lastname@example.org. For more information, click here.
Monday, May 16, 2011
May 16, 2011 (GBN News): Emboldened by the NY State Board of Regents’ approval of a strict new teacher evaluation system, Governor Andrew Cuomo has decided to tighten the screws even further. In his second letter to Chancellor Meryl Tisch in as many days, the Governor thanked the Regents for their vote, but “strongly suggested” that they now consider upgrading to an even more draconian set of sanctions.
According to the letter, leaked to GBN News, firing teachers whose test scores do not measure up will be only the first step. If, after losing their jobs, their students’ scores do not improve, teachers will now be publicly humiliated by being tarred and feathered in public squares. Sources told GBN News that the Governor had actually considered having these low performing teachers run out of town on a rail, but was told that recent transit cutbacks would render that all but impossible.
One potential flaw in the plan was reportedly pointed out to Mr. Cuomo – that teachers cannot be held responsible for improving students’ test scores after they are fired. But the Governor was said to have termed this, “just another excuse by defenders of the status quo”, and pointed out the historical precedent of debtors’ prisons.
Sunday, May 15, 2011
UPDATE 2: Despite all the research and all the warnings from experts, the Regents approved this proposal today.
And if we drive away the best teachers by using a flawed process, are we really putting our students first?”
Tuesday, May 10, 2011
Monday, May 9, 2011
Saturday, May 7, 2011
There's a good quote from Ann Kjellberg in today's NY Times about the mayor's proposed slash and burn budget cuts to schools: "We feel like pawns in his political struggles,” said Ann Kjellberg, a schools advocate and the mother of a fourth grader. “He said he needs $300 million to save these jobs, and $300 million seems like an amount you could find if you looked hard.”
Also, Walcott now says class size will be raised by about two students per class – considerably more than his previous testimony before the city council of an increase of one to one a half students. The UFT has predicted that these cuts would lead to an increase of about three students per class. To be conservative, I have prepared charts, showing what Walcott's prediction would mean in terms of average class size, compared to the goals the city made a commitment to achieve after the CFE/C4E legislation was passed in 2007.
Ironically, the 2011-2012 school year was supposed to be the final year in DOE's state-approved C4E class size reduction plan; in which they promised to reduce average class sizes in grades K-3 to no more than 19.9 students per class; 22.9 in grades 4-8; and 24.5 in high school core classes.
We will be further from those goals than anyone could have possibly imagined when the CFE case was settled, and far above what class sizes were in 2003, when the state's highest court concluded that NYC children were deprived of their constitutional right to an adequate education because of excessive class sizes. (In 2003, average class size in grades K-3 was about 21.6; and in grades 4-8 at 26.7; we had no reliable data for high school).
Yet these charts are highly uncertain, and likely to reflect the minimum of what the actual effect may be. Remember that the distribution of class sizes across the city is very uneven, and more than half of all middle school classes and more than 60 percent of high school classes are larger than 28 students already.
Enrollment and classroom overcrowding is also increasing at the same time, the latter due to co-locations and school closings as well as growing enrollment. All these factors also have a significantly negative impact on class size.
Already nearly one third of all Kindergarten students are in classes of 25 or more (at or above the contractual level); this percentage will likely rise next year no matter what happens to the budget, as evidenced by the fact that there are Kindergarten waiting lists at one fourth of all elementary schools.
Though I have no crystal ball and insufficient statistical skills to be able to model all these factors, I imagine than many if not most NYC schools will be forced to increase their class sizes to the UFT contractual levels next year if these cuts go through:
What does this mean? How can a school "manage" class increases this large? Whatever the particular increases turn out to be, these cuts would likely be a disaster for NYC children and their opportunity to learn, and must be prevented at all costs.
Also see the NY1 coverage.
Friday, May 6, 2011
The Bloomberg administration plans to announce that it will open 10 new senior centers, each serving 250 to 300 people.
- He could choose to make the cuts elsewhere in the overall city budget, or DOE spending, including the many billions of dollars on central, contracts, consultants and computers.
- He could choose to draw from the $2 billion still remaining in the city’s health care reserve.
- He could choose to support the retention of the millionaire’s tax, either on the state or city level.
Instead, has chosen to make our children pay the price.