Sunday, July 7, 2013

New York Times editors sadly return to cheerleading Bloomberg's status quo

Today the NY Times editors returned to their status quo ante position when it comes to the city’s public schools, and sternly warned the mayoral candidates to stick to the dreadful Bloomberg dysfunctional and autocratic policies of school closings and privatization.
Much of the editorial, entitled “A New Education Mayor,” reads like it was written by City Hall PR machine, without any reference to reality: “He swept away a byzantine bureaucracy that had defeated his predecessors and created clear lines of authority.
Nothing could be more byzantine – and without any clear lines of authority -- than the inexplicable networks that have replaced the district structure.
Mr. Bloomberg’s policy of closing large, failing schools and replacing them with smaller schools is unpopular with teachers, many of whom have to find jobs elsewhere in the system. And some adults have emotional ties to a school, however terrible it has become.
This is totally dismissive of the terrible impact school closures have on communities and the children in these schools. 
The editorial is similarly dense about the damaging impact of charter co-locations:
“In a few extreme cases, critics say, the regular school students are treated like second-class citizens in a building that once belonged to them.”
A few extreme cases, critics say? The loss of classrooms, art rooms, access to library and gym – and the inequitable conditions that result -- are all too common among co-located schools.
This editorial is a huge contrast with the far more accurate May 19 editorial that clearly recognized the failure of the Bloomberg policies and criticized administration figures who complained that some of the mayoral candidates wanted to take a different tack, called “Education, Vision and the Mayor’s Race.”
Here’s what that earlier editorial said about school closures, less than two months ago:
“Yes, Mr. Bloomberg has shown disdain for consultation, as in his rush to close underperforming schools without the full and meaningful involvement of affected communities. The system needs to strengthen neighborhoods’ connection to schools and reconnect with parents who feel shut out.”
And here’s what it said about the awful co-locations:
“And while charter schools can be a path to excellence, they can also cause problems. Shoehorning them into existing school buildings over local objections can alienate parents and reinforce among students a harmful sense of being separate and unequal.”
But my favorite sentence in the earlier editorial was this:
“But after 12 years, this mayor’s ideas are due for a counterargument. The critiques the candidates are offering hardly shock the conscience, and their complaints about the Bloomberg administration can be heard from teachers and parents in any school in the city.”
Exactly.  The fact that the New York Times editorial board, which had consistently ignored the protests and discontent of parents and the evident damage that Bloomberg had done to our schools, and had now appeared to awaken from its somnolence and emerge from its insulated fortress, made me hope that the situation had improved.  I speculated that perhaps there was now a Times editorial writer who actually knew a NYC public school parent, or even had a child in a city public school herself.
No such luck. Inadvertently or not, this earlier editorial has now been omitted from the list of Times education opinion pieces here.
What explains this schizophrenia? Was Brent Staples, the Times education “expert” and reliable Bloomberg ally, on vacation when the May editorial was written? Will we see any more trenchant education critiques from the Times before the election?  Sadly, this prospect now seems unlikely.


Patrick J. Sullivan said...

Yes, your theory is correct. Chancellor Walcott told me Brent Staples didn't write the earlier editorial, someone else did and Walcott was very frustrated by the Times' lapse.

Leonie Haimson said...

Can we find out who did write the earlier editorial? We need more people at the NYT who recognize the reality behind the stale talking points.

Pogue said...

Many reporters are bought and paid for by the elite 1% editorialists and their owners.

Expect no help from the current lamestream media.

NYC Educator said...

I guess if you take both sides of the issue on different days, you half to be right at least half of the time.

Consider that this represents a 50% better showing than Bloomberg's education positions, and perhaps it becomes attractive to those who don't think things through.

Anonymous said...

Please check out Andrew Wolfs response to the Times editorial now on line at the Times site.

Duke said...

The NYT, like just about every other major newspaper's editorial board, refuses to see that charter school "successes" are not replicable, because "successful" charters do not educate the same children as neighboring public schools. They also tend to spend more.

Let's hope that one day this basic truth is acknowledged by media outlets like the Times.