Please try to focus the citywide discussion on learning and teaching rather than on data and accountability. Our attention needs to be on improving schools rather than on improving systems. Ask us to answer the tough questions: “How we can teach better and what we should teach?” Our concentration on statistical outcomes has caused us to be less effective educators than we might have been. It distracts us from the truly important questions of what, and how, young people learn.
Help us unlearn shorthand such as, “That school’s an A” or, “New York City’s test scores rose by X percent” because such language obscures the real question of whether or not kids are learning well. Instead, try to engender an honest dialogue about the best ways to get kids to think for themselves and the best ways to help young people develop the skills and the habits of mind necessary to become good citizens.
Please ensure that the public discourse is not about demonizing teachers or their union. A leader can effect change without manufacturing an enemy.
She’s going to have to bend over backwards to make people feel like they can take a risk and tell her things that she may not want to hear. I think overall, systemwide morale is really low. I am absolutely all for the idea that children are first, but there’s a way to treat the adults who work in a school with the kind of respect you want them to show the children, and that kind of respect has not been effectively shown.
One of the biggest issues right now is that there are legitimate problems around school planning and placement of schools — multiple schools inside of schools, sometimes where the previous school didn’t want the other school.
These are very difficult issues, challenging politically on multiple levels. But there has to be a better sense of engagement with the community. This is what makes public schools different from other schooling options: This is really schooling for the public. You want the parents, you want the public, to come to the table and be participatory.
Class size should be smaller. I don’t think there should be more than 20 students per class.
I would love to see an overhaul of writing across the curriculum. I think she should have a deputy chancellor solely devoted to developmental writing. A huge percentage of our students require remedial writing courses at CUNY. She should ensure that writing is fostered in the early grades and evolved yearly, so that students can eventually handle the rigors of academic college writing. Writing requires thinking skills. If you can’t think you can’t write, and if you can’t write you can’t be successful in college.
Minimize the budget cuts that filter down to the school level. Look harder and deeper at central staffing to see if there’s more fat to cut, if there are middle-manager positions — assistant directors, deputy directors — that can be phased out.
You can be sure that Bloomberg and Black will take NONE of the above suggestions.
Adam Lisberg suggested Bloomberg talk less and listen more in his Daily News column today.
He pointed to the appointment of Black as chancellor as another example of Bloomberg listening to nobody but himself and ignoring parents, teachers, and other political leaders.
The furor over Bloomberg's handling of the Bloomberg Blizzard of 2010 has been a humbling experience for The Little Mayor Who Couldn't, but you can be sure that humility will be short lived.
It is incumbent upon all of us in this city to continually remind Mr. Mayor that post-CityTime and post-Bloomberg Blizzard 2010, he NO LONGER GETS THE BENEFIT OF THE DOUBT on policy.
In the past, the press and many New Yorkers have assumed he knows what he's talking about on various issues because he SOUNDS like he knows what he's talking about.
But both CityTime and the Bloomberg Blizzard Response have exposed the Little Mayor Who Couldn't for the charlatan he is.
He is a middling manager with awful people skills who rules by fear. He privileges data and stats above all else, so the data and stats have all "improved" during his mayoral tenure - from the test scores to the graduation rates to the crime rates to fire fatalities.
But as we know after the test scores were exposed as fraudulent, much of this "improvement" is based upon manipulated data.
When you threaten to fire any city manager - from a principal to a precinct captain - who doesn't show improved data, then you get improved data - even if there is no real improvement.
And make no mistake, Bloomberg rules by fear much more so than even Saint Rudy of 9/11.
The Times article points out that most NYC principals didn't want to go on record and give suggestions to Cathie Black for fear they would lose their jobs or suffer some kind of retribution:
MONDAY is Cathleen P. Black’s first day of school — running them, that is. As Ms. Black, a longtime magazine executive, takes over as chancellor of the New York City school system, we asked some of the city’s most respected principals to give her some advice.
Many of those interviewed were sharply critical of the city’s formula for grading schools on a scale of A through F, and expressed hope that Ms. Black might steer the focus away from standardized tests. Others begged her to do more listening to parents, teachers and principals. One warning sign: several principals said they were afraid to be quoted. “She’s going to be my boss,” one said. “I just found out my Q.R. is at the end of January,” another said, using educrat-ese for the school evaluation process called a Quality Review. “I need her to give me advice.”
Therein lies the problem with Bloomberg's tenure as mayor, Klein's tenure as chancellor, and mayoral control in particular.
Fear and fear alone rule the day.