Perdido 03

Perdido 03

Tuesday, August 31, 2010

Secretary Duncan Praises Bloomberg And Klein

Secretary of Education Arne Duncan arrived in New York yesterday on his Race to the Top promotion tour and said New York deserved its share of the RttT boondoggle prize money because we are so "reformy."

In other words, we lifted the charter cap, agreed to tie teacher evaluations to test scores and fire teachers and close schools when they do not add enough "value" to student scores.

These are unproven or disproven methods for reform, but nonetheless they are the ones being pushed by this administration.

In addition, Duncan praised Mayor Bloomberg and Chancellor Klein for their record of education reform here in New York City.

Looking at the "data" that deformers like Duncan, Bloomberg and Klein adore so much, I wonder just what record Duncan is talking about?

Because the record Juan Gonzalez wrote about on Friday July 30th wasn't so good:

For years, Mayor Bloomberg, Schools Chancellor Joel Klein and top education officials in Albany touted big jumps in math and reading scores statewide - and skyrocketing results among New York City's pupils.

The scores, they said, were proof that mayoral control and Klein's data-driven version of school reform had succeeded.

Schools were winning the "civil rights battle of our time," the chancellor claimed, by closing the racial "achievement gap."

To promote his reforms nationwide, Klein even founded a nonprofit group last year with the Rev. Al Sharpton. They called it the Education Equality Project.

Now, state officials have revealed a startling nosedive in test scores. Admitting that results from previous years had been inflated, the state announced tougher standards this year - resulting in the lower scores. Thousands of parents who had been told their children were at grade level are suddenly learning they aren't.

Even worse, the new scores show the racial "achievement gap" has increased.

Back in 2003, 73.3% of white fourth-grade students met state standards, compared with only 46.3% of black pupils. The gap between the two groups was 26.9 points. This year, the gap between black and white fourth-graders increased to 31.7 points.

For Hispanic fourth-graders, there was a smaller rise, from 29.7 points in 2003 to 30.3 this year - but a rise nonetheless.

Comparisons aren't possible for all grades because the state only tested fourth- and eighth-graders until 2006.

More than 15% of the 400,000 students who took this year's reading test registered at Level 1 - the lowest possible level - while only 2.8% did last year. An astonishing 85% of those lowest achievers were African-American and Hispanic.

The new scores are so bad Sharpton has begun to distance himself from Klein. "I'm very disturbed and concerned by these scores," Sharpton said.

"We were told students were improving, but it seems our kids were victims of dumbed-down tests to make the administration look good."

"We've been warning for years that passing levels had been lowered," said Victoria Bousquet, a member of the Coalition for Educational Justice.

The mother of two children at Medgar Evers Preparatory School in Brooklyn, Bousquet was stunned when she read the new test scores for their school.

"We went from 95% of the children meeting standards last year to 67% this year," she said.

Klein and Bloomberg dared to claim this week that the sky had not really fallen on their reforms. Test scores have continued to climb under their watch, they claimed. It's just that standards are getting tougher.

Well, ask any baseball fan about all those balls rocketing out of stadiums in the Mark McGwire-Sammy Sosa era. At first the numbers looked amazing, and everyone was happy. Then the investigations started, and McGwire is no longer anyone's hero.

The era of school scores on steroids is coming to an end. Let's see who survives this scandal.

The steroid analogy for the Bloomberg/Klein "record" of achievement is perfect.

The "data" looked great until you realized they were "juicing" it with dumbed down tests, easy testing rubrics and other kinds of jive.

Now we know that the Bloomberg/Klein record is a miserable failure.

It is plain to see - right there in the data.

And yet, the New York media and Klein and Bloomberg themselves refuse to acknowledge this.

They continue to insist city students have made huge gains on scores since they took over and the achievement gaps between white and Asian and black and Hispanic students has decreased. They same the same is true of student in schools with higher income populations and students in schools with lower income populations.

But this is NOT true.

It is right there, in black and white.

Right in the data.

Yet Secretary Arne, a basketball player by trade, insists that the Klein and Bloomberg record is stellar.

Perhaps this is because his own record as steward of the Chicago school system was also an abject failure.

Perhaps it's because ed deformers stick together and besides, the deform movement isn't about improving student performance but rather about closing schools, firing teachers, opening for-profit charters, busting the teachers union and privatizing the school system so that hedge fund criminals like Whitney Tilson can make money.

Or perhaps it's because Duncan, like the baseball players of yore we used to admire before it became clear they were taking performance-enhancing drugs, is himself on drugs.

UPDATE: Last night, Chancellor Klein heard sharp criticism and anger from parents over test scores and the chancellor's education "record" at the PEP meeting:

On Monday night, the Department of Education was prepared to hear from angry parents --- and there were plenty.

The meeting, held on Manhattan's Upper West Side, started quietly, as DOE officials explained that the state raised the bar for proficiency this year, which is why so many fewer city students passed. But when the public comment period began, the auditorium got louder. Forty people signed up for two minutes at the microphone, and they were angry.

"Real harm has been caused. Testing-Gate has caused harm to students, parents and tax payers," said David Bloomfield of the College of Staten Island.

"Pretty much we feel that we've been lied to in terms of the score of the test. They were saying that we had a higher score and then we find out that isn't true and a lot of schools have been closed because of that," said parent Elbibio Molina.

This was the second time the DOE had tried to address this issue. The first time, two weeks ago, angry parents shut down the meeting when the panel refused to even consider a motion to hear public comment.

Only half the panel members showed up for the rescheduled meeting Monday and parents said that was another indication of how little their voices are heard. By the time Schools Chancellor Joel Klein and his deputies spoke, parents shouted over them, walked out en masse, and turned their backs to the stage. In the end, both officials and audience members claimed the other side just wouldn't listen.

DOE officials say students have still made progress even though according to the new standards, many fewer students are proficient. But parents who attended the meeting say they want a better explanation for the lower scores.

I guess Arne Duncan didn't hear about this meeting.

And why would he?

Other than NY1's coverage of the meeting, none of the New York papers covered the story.

In fact, the Daily News covered the "Arne Give An A+ To Bloomberg and Klein" story, but not the angry parents at the PEP meeting.

The Times didn't bother to cover it.

And the Post, well, it's the Post.

So the New York media continues to make believe that the Bloomberg/Klein "record" is some magnificent achievement and Obama and Duncan continue to make believe the same thing.


  1. Deformers LOVE to congratulate each other, don't they?
    Can't wait to see them all crash and burn one of these days.

  2. No offense Queens teacher but until parents begin to REALLY speak out (I have two in the system-2nd/1st Grade), we, as teachers will never be able to ever have our voices heard. I think once Doucheberg leaves and Obama has his one term, only then will the NY media see the forests for the trees. I don't want to sound like a downer, but as a teacher of 15 years, I see unemployment in the next few years

  3. Yoav from the Post was there as was Meredith Kolodner from the Daily News - and they had photog who was there till the bitter end. So I don't know why they don't have stories. I have lots of good tape which I am working on.

  4. Perhaps the News and the Post editors decided that its more important to make believe, like Arne Duncan makes believe, that there is no dissent to the reform movement?