Perdido 03

Perdido 03

Wednesday, August 5, 2015

NY Post Runs Damaging Stories On Carmen Farina, NYCDOE, As Part Of "Massive Agenda" To Destroy De Blasio

This is Bob Hardt, the NY 1 Political Director, writing about the NY Post's jive coverage of crime stories in New York City, but it could just as well be about their jive coverage of the cheating scandals at the NYCDOE:

There was an alarming spate of shootings over the weekend and one New York City tabloid quickly does what it does best:  pointing its finger – and I'm not saying which one – straight in Mayor de Blasio's direction.

The New York Post rang its alarm bell yesterday with this crime story that quickly veered into the paper's political playbook: "Brooklyn residents said Sunday that they fear the return of the bad old days of 'Crooklyn' — and placed the blame squarely on Mayor Bill de Blasio — after a bloody weekend in which at least 19 people were shot in the borough."

As a former reporter for the paper where I proudly worked for nine years, it's not hard to smell a rat somewhere high up in the Post's production line. This story could have been written before any reporter was sent out to find the quotes that would damn City Hall back to Dinkinsville.

While everyone should be concerned and worried over a weekend of violence, it's also important to actually look at some numbers provided by City Hall. As of yesterday, there were five fewer shooting incidents in the city than in 2014 and there have been seven more additional shooting victims than last year. More alarmingly, homicides are up by ten percent but the numbers are still lower than they were for almost any year in the Bloomberg administration.

But perception and reality have been divided by a blurry line for the tabloid's City Hall coverage for some time now – dating back to the paper's slanted coverage of the mayoral race in 2013.
And witness the newspaper's recent obsession with a homeless man who has been wandering the streets and urinating in public for more than a decade – dating far back into Michael Bloomberg's administration.

None of this would matter if the paper was on its angry little island – but a screaming front-page headline in the Post still has influence on some radio and TV stations. And it still pressures City Hall to jump – from releasing crime statistics yesterday to having the mayor quietly visit Tompkins Square Park after the Post made it sound like it's reverted back to the bad old anarchic days of the 1980's.

Clearly, the de Blasio administration has plenty of work to do and some of the work it has already done has been far from perfect. But as journalists, it's also important to try to focus on things fairly and objectively without putting your finger on the scale. In the Post's case, it's more than a finger. It's a massive agenda.

The massive agenda the Post has against de Blasio is not only playing out in crime and quality-of-life stories, it's playing out in education stories too.

The Posties would have New Yorkers believe there is a systemic cheating scandal going on in the New York City school system that was ushered in by Chancellor Carmen Farina, that it is a "growing trend" and is only being exposed because the intrepid reporters at the Post are on the case.

As I posted yesterday, the truth is cheating has being going on for years in the NYCDOE, long before Carmen Farina became chancellor, and if anything was more prevalent during the Bloomberg Years when there was untold pressure for schools to improve their statistics and be shut down.

There were cheating scandals in 2005, 2006, 2007, 2008, 2009, 2010, 2011 and 2012 - many reported by the NY Post, btw - and the scandal of Chancellor Klein's credit recovery scam that allowed schools to give students semester credits for watching movies or reading comic books.

Limits were placed on credit recovery programs in 2012, after Klein was gone, but the Bryant scandal is a vestige of the old Bloomberg/Klein credit recovery program -  they were the first to hand out semester credits for minimal work in order to juke the overall stats.

How cheating has suddenly becoming a "growing trend" (as somebody who didn't know better and was buying the Post coverage put it on Twitter yesterday) when it's been around since the Bloomberg Years is beyond me - but that's how it's being framed in the Post.

And just as the crime stories are full of hyperbolic language meant to scare the city into electing a new mayor (crime stats are done across the board and as, Hardt noted in his NY1 piece, the homicide rate, while up, is still lower than almost any year during the Bloomberg administration) and the quality-of-life stories are meant to make people think the social fabric of the city is unraveling (as Hardt notes, the Post is using a guy who's been urinating in the streets since the Bloomberg Years as the emblem for what's wrong with "De Blasio's New York"), they're using the cheating stories at Bryant and Dewey High Schools to smear Farina and de Blasio as cheaters.

If the Post wants to do some intrepid reporting, they ought to go back to the Bloomberg/Klein Years and dig into some of the statistics to see how they got so good - how the test scores rose so high (they were inflated), how the grad rates rose so high (credit recovery, cheating.)

But of course Rupert Murdoch does not have a massive agenda to destroy his fellow oligarch and media mogul Michael Bloomberg, so the Posties never tied the cheating incidents under Bloomberg to a larger narrative of "NYC Unraveling" as they do now with the cheating incidents under de Blasio, and they'll never go back and look at the old scandals to show how bad things were in the Bloomberg Years.

The whole thing is jive and it needs to be called out as such, as Bob Hardt did in his NY1 piece about the Post coverage of the crime stats.

At Gotham Schools, one teacher puts the whole cheating scandal into perspective by noting that there's less incentive to cheat in the de Blasio Years than during the Bloomberg Years:

Michael Dowd, a social studies teacher at Midwood High School, said schools under Fariña feel less frenzied to show gains, reducing the worries that can fuel grade inflation and inappropriate credit-recovery schemes. The city has removed two of the big sources of pressure, he said: “The closure threat — coming from the city, anyway — and the progress reports, which reward you for credit accumulation.”

That's exactly right.

Alas, New Yorkers will never know that if they're only reading the Post or getting radio/TV news as influenced by the Post coverage.

Instead they'll think the cheating just started and was fanned by Farina and de Blasio.

34 comments:

  1. Farina deserves the abuse. She could have exposed the cheating done on Klein's watch and hers but chose to cover it up. She aspires to be part of the big boys' oligarch club. I hope the Post tears her to shreds.

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    1. There's fair scrutiny and there's agenda-ridden scrutiny - this one's agenda-ridden.

      As Norm wrote on Ed Notes today, Farina helped cover up the Bloomberg mess instead of exposing it, but you know what would have happened had she exposed it - the grad rates would plummet and the Post would go at her for that.

      Norm said "It's lose/lose" for Farina and I think that's right.

      It's important to point this out.

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    2. RBE...But DB and Farina should still defend themselves...These credit recovery policies are ALL Bloomberg era policies. These principals are ALL Bloomberg appointees...The pressure to provide "corporate balance sheet numbers" was started by Bloomberg and the education reformers, and has been exacerbated by Cuomo with the threat of receivership of these high needs schools. DB and Farina should start fighting back...and where is the UFT and CSA to help them? This a perfect opportunity to expose the evils of the "numbers based" insanity foisted on NY by the education "reform" crowd.

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    3. You're right.

      They should be exposing the Bloomberg fraud.

      I tweeted this to Karen Hinton, de Blasio's press secretary yesterday.

      No response, of course.

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    4. Two wrongs don't make a right. Farina is an extension of the Bloomberg administration; NY Post just doesn't like her stance against charters. Same thing with DeBlasio, the guy gave us the worst contract in history and has a 5.9 billion dollar surplus, yet the Post vilifies him. This is Murdoch driven in order to open up the education market.

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    5. Worst contract in history?

      That was the '05 contract that created the ATR problem, enshrined "Fair Funding," took away the right to grieve a letter in your file, brought back bathroom duty, and added extra days and time to the year.

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    6. Monetarily 2015.
      Give backs 2005.

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  2. This is hysterical. Today's NY Post, a teacher states "What choice did Fariña have, she's getting killed". This is unreal. How funny is this quote?

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    1. And it's an anonymous quote to boot... Like they walked up to summer school and just asked somebody.

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    2. Susan Edelman gets 50 calls per day from teachers probably. The Post can do credit recovery stories from tomorrow's newspaper until next Mwmorial Day weekend. Every single day!

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    3. Yup - and they could have done so during Bloomberg too. But that didn't fit the larger political narrative they're pushing.

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    4. Also; she got those same calls during the Bloomberg years and never really bothered with them. Now, suddenly ....

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  3. I was actually very surprised by the Chalkbeat story today. They are usually one of the most reformy sites out there but they actually gave a very balanced view of credit recovery. The post will continue to slander de Blasio any way they can, and unfortunately many New Yorkers will buy it.

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    1. It was decent for them, I agree. Still, it didn't get at the sheer magnitude of cheating/scamming under Bloomberg/Klein.

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  4. The comments above and everywhere on the ed blogs take for granted that the DOE is a cesspool of corruption where administrators introduce teachers to lives of crimes and throw mostly black and brown students into the 21st century without a paddle. Certainly, Farina and her kind should be condemned for their tolerance of cheating, but what about us? We are equally to blame because we became collaborators either by our cooperation or by our silence. If not for the Dewey scandal and tabloid follow-ups, grade-fixing would still be off our radar as it remains off with Mulgrew and Randi.

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    1. There were plenty of teachers speaking out.

      Let's start with the blogs.

      Nobody covers the academic fraud/cheating stories more closely or better than Chaz.

      That's been his beat for years and years.

      Google "credit recovery" or "cheating" and "Chaz" and you'll see.

      Norm at Ed Notes NYC Educator, Accountable Talk, South Bronx School also wrote about various tales of malfeasance and/or outright fraud in the DOE, as did I.

      As for individual teachers speaking out, well, that gets dicier in an atmosphere where the power dynamic rest squarely with the administration (as you well know, Philip, given your own experience with this.)

      But the point about all of this is not that there's still cheating in the system - it's that it's been endemic for years but it never got tied to some larger narrative by the Posties and other reformers when it was caught during the Bloomberg Years.

      Now it is being tied to a larger political narrative, not because the Posties care about these students or their schools (they don't) but simply because they want to do de Blasio in.

      I won't defend cheating on tests or credit recovery - but I also won't let the Post use these incidents as a smear tactic when there was as much (or more) cheating during the Bloomberg Years and when Joel Klein, the genius of reform himself, cooked up some of the scams like credit recovery.

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    2. The exceptions are not the rule. Sure, a few of us commented on DOE corruption from time to time, including cheating, but nobody except myself (pardon the self-advertising made a criminal case out of it, and still don't. Notice that the trial and prosecution of the Dewey Principal, a legal and moral no brainer that I am pushing on the Brooklyn DA, is absent from the discussion.

      I've lobbied some bloggers about Regents tampering and gotten nowhere. Same with Deputy Chancellors, Principals, and District Reps.

      Not to pick a fight with Norm (who has banned me from Ednotes and threated to delete my archive if I ever contacted him again), but rather to show the slippery slope so many good teachers have ridden, let me quote Norm's too candid admission from his intro to one of my anti-cheating posts: .“,,, would never whistle blow -- figure it's like baseball players on steroids -- if everyone does it everything balances out. … Well, I guess I don't have problems with grading generously and would think that if a kid was close to a 65 I would think about what I am doing to that kid by giving say a 64.”

      If Norm refused to say no to cheating, is Farina any worse?

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    3. To be fair, you can see why potential whistleblowers might not want to step forward when they see what happened to you and others.

      As for Regents tampering, well, with the tests graded centrally, I don't see how schools can tamper with them. In the old days when they were graded in-school, sure, the test scores could be manipulated. But hard to see that happen when the tests are graded blindly by teachers from other schools in central locations. Charter schools w/ Regents exams still grade in-house, btw, so more likely those test scores can be manipulated.

      Can schools still tamper in-house with tests before they're packed and sent away? Sure, but again, harder to do with the way multiple choice scores are scanned right after the test and a large number of erasures will draw red flags. The tests have to be packed up pretty quickly after the exam ends and be ready for delivery. The old days of having the tests overnight in schools where anything can happen, those don't exist anymore.

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  5. Why doesn't the UFT take out some positive advertising for DeBlasio/Farina -we are being dragged through the mud with them. It's seems like the UFT is oblivious to everything going on, other than the increase in Teacher's Choice.

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    1. I don't think that would help.

      Imagine the Post headlines: UFT defends Farina/De Blasio over cheating with ad buy."

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    2. They're saying whatever they want anyway. The battle is for what the public believes. The ads should focus on the hard work of teachers and strides made during this administration.

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    3. OK< I see some value in that, but not directly from the UFT. Maybe from one of their funded allies - AQE, et al?

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    4. Anything, but the deafening silence.

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    5. Point taken.

      Mikey must be on vacation.

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  6. Another perspective. .

    Could it be DOE is trying to prevent more schools from being declared "failures" since Cuomo and hedge buddies want their paws on as many schools as possible?

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    1. Yes, that's a real line of attack too. There's no doubt that's some of what underlies the Post attacks.

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  7. Let's not forget..............

    A lot of these kids get exactly what they deserve: a piece of paper.

    Melissa Mejia admitted she didn't do the work. Who should we blame for that?




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    1. I do wonder how sympathetic she is when she admits to not doing the work or showing up for class but happily (at least at the time) taking the diploma.

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  8. Ahhhhhh, another school year in a fake mini high school coming up. 100K+, per session coaching, etc. Easy 135/140K. Wait till that base 120K kicks in. Holy Shit! You guys can bitch all you want. I have mastered, D.O.E. Survivor Series.

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  9. This is SO SO SO Cuomo starting the retaliation. The Post really seems to be over reaching with their stories. That's why the DN will be far more subtle when they start their end of it.

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    1. My favorite: They covered a mugging in Central Park thusly:

      A violent beggar choked a West Side man into unconsciousness in Central Park’s Ramble in a hellish mugging that underscores the famed park’s skyrocketing robbery stats.

      “If you scream I’ll kill you,” were the last words the 53-year-old victim heard Thursday night as the fiend’s arm tightened around his throat and he collapsed to the ground, cops said.

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