Sunday, July 26, 2009

Today Vs 30 Years Ago

A commenter over at Gotham Schools wrote the following in conjunction with an article on mayoral control of our schools:

Anyone who disagrees [with mayoral control] wasn’t paying attention to the tragedy taking place in NYC schools during the 70 & 80s.
I don't claim to be an edu_scientist, like this guy does, but I was around in the 70's and 80's and saw first hand what went on in the schools.

There were plenty of kids in those days that could not read or write or do simple arithmetic and there are just as many of those kids around today. The big difference is that back then we didn't pretend they could pass algebra and chemistry and an English regents. We didn't give them tests with such low raw scores needed to pass that they all passed. What we did do was address the needs of the kids in with these deficits. There was plenty of federal money around to provide small classes in math and reading. I know, I taught groups of 15 kids and had a para in the room to help me. Not all the kids succeeded but there was a real individual plan for every child and every child got the help they needed. Most did not go on to college but when they graudated high school they had the skills they needed to succeed in the real world.

Holding the mayor or anyone else accountable for the shape of our schools only works if there are repurcussions for not being able to succeed. So far, I have seen none for this mayor.

Having Bloomberg in charge of our schools would be the equivalent of having me run his billion dollar company. We both know nothing about the areas we are supervising.


Noel said...

You're absolutely right. The biggest problem seems to be breaking through that wall of public perception, where test scores seem to be so much more meaningful than anything else. Have you seen the video making the rounds about how other countries are now moving *away* from standardization? It's just appalling how Bloomberg is so fixated on that (same for Arne Duncan, unfortunately). But they only succeed with that message because it resonates with the larger public. What can replace that notion of test scores == "success" -- with equal brevity and punch?

Pissedoffteacher said...

Thank you for your comments.

c'รจ montessori said...

I think that anyone that blindly supports mayoral control isn't really paying attention to what's going on in schools today.

endmayoralcontrol said...

Or has some vested interest in having mayoral control.

Noel said...

What seems really crazy to me is that it's apparently only *now* that *lots* of people are waking up to the fact of this mayor's autocratic megalomania. So many people -- including people within the school system -- were perfectly content to say that mayoral control should stay in effect, maybe with a few "adjustments", but that it was so "obviously" better than the bad old days. But there were always so many reasons to be furious at what Bloomberg and Klein were doing. Yet restoring control of the schools to the people seemed to be the least of anyone's worries. Only now have Bloomberg's over-the-top pronouncements finally got enough people steamed that perhaps there's a chance of seeing mayoral control definitively left behind. But it will only happen if enough people are willing to go out on a limb -- since this is apparently what counts for going out on a limb these days -- and say that the whole thing has to go.

Anonymous said...

What will happen to these students who "pass" and in reality are not meeting the standards? With many intervention programs and referrals being solely based on "test scores", these students will just be moved along, principals will get their bonuses, and Bloomberg will get his votes.

Anonymous said...

The bad old days were better than what exists now in terms of management. Mayoral control means bigger bucks for those on the inside track: Pearson Prentice Hall, McGraw-Hill, Scholastic, Kaplan, and a host of companies most likely connected with either Mr. Mayor or friends of his. At least there were federally-funded Title I programs addressing kids' reading and math deficits. There were smaller classes especially in special education, where 10:1 is so much more effective than the 12:1 and then the 15:1 that is in effect now; the latter number has been as much as 20 with illegal "waivers" that don't exist. The mayor's program addressing kids' educational deficits is hard to find, since he closes a school when ever there is a "need" to get a charter in that space. His education "policy" consists of shock and awe. He's like the Cossacks invading the shtetl, if anyone knows what I mean. A quick and sweeping change, leaving disaster in its wake. There's no good in all the instability that has been generated by his education organization for years. People, especially children, need more than a tuneup to adjust to new surroundings, people, or methodology. Bloomberg appears to think that autocratic leadership will show the way, but all it shows is that he knows nothing about children, their development, or the concept of what true education is.

Anonymous said...

when was the last time you walked around NYC?

around Harlem? around Times Square? around Lower Manhattan? Around Brooklyn?

See I have been wandering the streets of NYC for a long time. I used to love taking long subway rides to check out parts of the city that I had never been to. I used to love watching the Graffiti on the trains. Whenever you were on the El' you could see the city deteriorating right in front of your eyes.

Some people didn't care to see what I saw. Some people had the attitude that it was the way "those" people lived. I guess I am either blessed or cursed that I started paying attention to these things at such a young age.

You see it is my theory that the HIP HOP culture was born because of the poor educational system. You see in the Bronx at the time, ( High Schools) didn't provide hope. What they did was cater to those wanted to come and simply pushed out those who made no effort. Life in this city was about the educated and the uneducated. The rich & the poor. We had a caste system developing and many people were content with that. Where was the hope? Who was responsible for providing the hope?

There was one place every community had and that was the schools.

But you see, since no one ever tracked things like graduation rate in the earlier years, no principal ever felt the pressure of making sure he was accountable for every kid in the building.

Hell... you talk contracts to big companies... at least they provide decent product. Back then you gave your buddies deals and you didn't get anything for it.

Corruption, greed, and every possible thing that leads to the deterioration of that one place that was there to provide hope.

I am sorry people... you can say what you want. Anyone who thinks we are worse off today than back in the day is wrong. You don't remember what it was really like... and you certainly didn't walk around enough.

Pissedoffteacher said...

You forget that my dad lives in the Bronx and I am there every week. If what you see is improvement, I think you better check your dictionary for the meaning of the word.

endmayoralcontrol said...

Pick someone new to hero worship. Bloomberg is not a good choice.

endmayoralcontrol said...

Pick someone new to hero worship. Bloomberg is not a good choice.

Rachel Grynberg said...

What does it matter if we are better or worse -- the point is WE ARE STILL AWFUL. We have learned nothing. It doesn't matter who controls the schools. It matters what the schools offer to their students. Bloomberg gives schools tiny budgets and cuts programs left and right. He offers nothing.