Perdido 03

Perdido 03

Friday, March 2, 2012

Bloomberg Lies About Closing Achievement Gap

Today Mayor Bloomberg joined two other corporate education reform mayors and the Secretary of Education Privatization Arne Duncan to talk about the wonders of firing teachers, closing schools, adding hundreds of tests a year to the curriculum and using scores from those tests in an error-riddled value-added measurement to publicly humiliate teachers.

A good time was had by all - Mayor Bloomberg even sang a Pete Seeger song!

More on that later.

But first this Bloombergian doozy as he was defending his record on education issues:

Bloomberg said the city’s school reform efforts had more than paid off. ”We have closed the gap between black and Latino kids and white and Asian kids,” he said. “We have cut it in half.”

This is of course not true as Gotham Gazette pointed out last August:

Bloomberg has long patted himself on the back for narrowing the gap in academic achievement between the city’s white and Asian students on one hand and blacks and Latinos on the other.


The mayor noted the city had narrowed the gap in high school graduation rates between the races. And the evidence backs that up. But in myriad other areas — test scores, admission to elite high schools, admission to gifted and talented elementary programs, suspensions — the gap has remained essentially the same or widened under the Bloomberg regime.


For years -– most notably in 2009 when the mayor ran for re-election — Bloomberg and his then schools chancellor, Joel Klein, trumpeted the narrowing gap — and increase scores overall – on the state standardized reading and math tests for third through eighth graders. But then last year, everything changed.

The state, in response to rising concerns about alleged dumbing down of tests, recalibrated the scoring system. That reopened the gap, sending it back to its levels in 2003 –- before the Bloomberg/Klein reforms had taken place.

“Almost all of the progress that has supposedly been made since 2003 in the achievement gap has been wiped out by this new re-scaling of the tests,” Megan Hester of the Annenberg Institute for School Reform told NY1.

As the administration released test scores last year, we found that in 2003, 73.3 percent of white fourth graders and 46.3 percent of black fourth graders met state standards according to the tests, for a gap of 26.9 point. Last year, the gap rose to 31.7 percent. (The 2011 test scores have not been released.) The gap for Hispanics increased, too, though only slightly.

Gotham Gazette also noted the gap for acceptance to elite city high schools, kindergarten admissions, and suspensions and found Bloomberg's education record wanting.

They even questioned the one area where Bloomberg really did close the gap between white and Asian students and black and Latino students:

High school graduation rates: The figures compiled by the state and released by the city show an increase in graduation rates among all groups during the Bloomberg years. While 46.5 percent of all students graduated in four years in 2005, in 2010 almost two thirds – 65.1 percent – did. Black and Latino students remain less likely to graduate than their white and Asian counterparts, but the gap between groups has narrowed over the past five years: from a 23.89 percentage point difference between blacks and white in 2005 to a 17.6 point gap in 2010.

Certainly some dispute how meaningful this figure — and a New York City high school diploma — is. They note, for example, that about three quarters of students entering City University of New York community colleges last fall needed remedial work in at least one key area. Slicing and dicing various numbers, education expert Aaron Pallas, a frequent Bloomberg critic, has calculated that of black and Latin students who entered ninth grade in 2006 and graduated, only 12 percent were considered ready for college, according to state measurement.

An investigation, reported yesterday in Gotham Schools, into possible abuse of the so-called credit recovery system, which allows students to make up credits, could cast doubt on some of the graduation gains in doubt. The school in question – A. Phillip Randolph High School – reported an increase in its graduation rate of nearly 30 points.

The state is set to release data on the use of credit recovery as early as next month. “The data, which will show how widespread the use of credit recovery is, could challenge the credibility of the higher graduation rates that have taken place during the Bloomberg administration,” Gotham Schools wrote.

And yet, Bloomberg got to declare victory over the achievement gap - or at least half of it - today without anybody from the press calling "Bullshit!" on him.

As for the Pete Seeger song, well, Gotham Schools reported that Bloomberg said the following to defend his increased use of standardized testing:

… Pete Seeger had a song, “knee deep in the big muddy and the big fool said to push on.” Without testing that’s exactly what you do. And we are taking away the birthright of our children … Every time that we say oh we’ll test next year or two years from now or three years from now, you’re taking some kids and you're sending them out into the real world with lack of skills and they will never catch up.
Now this is a Vietnam-era song written with that conflict in mind, but Pete Seeger has said the following about the power of songs to exceed any narrow context

Of course, a song is not a speech, you know. It reflects new meanings as one's life's experiences shine new light upon it. (This song does not mention Vietnam or President Johnson by name.) Often a song will reappear several different times in history or in one's life as there seems to be an appropriate time for it. Who knows.

So perhaps Bloomberg is right to breathe new life into the song by giving it a corporate education reform gloss.

it makes perfect sense to me.

Here we are, knee deep in the big muddy of soulless corporate education reform, tens year into No Child Left Behind and high stakes standardized testing, and boy are we up to our necks in mud.

The achievement gap, as noted above, is as big as ever.

We have closed over a hundred schools, opened hundreds more, charterized a good part of the school system, and yet the stats are even worse now then before we started.

But press on, says Captain Bloomberg, press on.

Of course, here is how that ended in the song:

The Sergeant said, "Sir, with all this equipment,
No man will be able to swim."
"Sergeant, don't be a Nervous Nelly,"
The Captain said to him.
"All we need is a little determination.
Men, follow me. I'll lead on."
We were neck deep in the Big Muddy,
And the big fool said to push on.

All at once the moon clouded over.
We heard a gurglin' cry.
A few seconds later the Captain's helmet
Was all that floated by.
The Sergeant said, "Turn around, men.
I'm in charge from now on."
And we just made it out of the Big Muddy
With the Captain dead and gone.

We stripped and dived and found his body
Stuck in the old quicksand.
I guess he didn't know that the water was deeper
Then the place he'd once before been.
Another stream had joined the Big Muddy
About a half mile from where we'd gone.
We were lucky to escape from the Big Muddy
When the big fool said to push on.

Now I'm not going to point any moral —
I'll leave that for yourself.
Maybe you're still walking, you're still talking,
You'd like to keep your health.
But every time I read the papers, that old feeling comes on,
We're waist deep in the Big Muddy
And the big fool says to push on.

Waist deep in the Big Muddy,
The big fool says to push on.
Waist deep in the Big Muddy,
The big fool says to push on.
Waist deep, neck deep,
Soon even a tall man will be over his head.
We're waist deep in the Big Muddy,
And the big fool says to push on.

Let me know when the captain's helmet is floatin' on by, will ya?

1 comment:

  1. "From where Winston stood it was just possible to read, picked out on its white face in elegant lettering, the three slogans of the Party: