Perdido 03

Perdido 03

Tuesday, August 4, 2015

Grade Fixing, Cheating Took Place Under Bloomberg Too

I'm not out to defend the grade fixing at Bryant High School, but I am pointing out the double standards with which the NY Post (the newspaper that reported the sandal) and Albany politicians treat Mayor de Blasio compared to Mayor Bloomberg when it comes to the allegations.

Today the Post reports that two Assembly members - Simcha Felder and Ed Ra - say the grade fixing at Bryant will be the death knell for de Blasio's control of NYC schools:

State Sen. Simcha Felder (D-Brooklyn), who leads a committee with oversight of city schools, has already said de Blasio won’t get an extension without appearing before his panel for a grilling in Albany.

Felder didn’t return requests for comment Monday following Mejia’s explosive exposé and her teacher’s admission she felt pressured to pass her.

But Assemblyman Edward Ra (R-Nassau County) wasn’t shy with his condemnation of de Blasio.
“This is the type of thing the Legislature is going to get into when we get into the next session and next June when mayoral control comes up for renewal,” he said.

Ra added the scandal “is likely to come up even before mayoral control, as we go through the budget” and de Blasio and Fariña appear in Albany to lobby for state funding.

“It’s a clear question that’s going to be asked: What’s going on in the system, from the chancellor on up to the Mayor’s Office?” Ra said, calling Mejia’s diploma “a symptom of a lot of what’s going on in education the last few years.”

Since Ra is the one quoted in the article, let me ask him, where was he during the Bloomberg Years for these grade fixing scandals?

Take this one at Lehman in 2009:

Teachers are accusing a Bronx high school principal hired with a $25,000 bonus to improve the school’s academics of instead transforming the school into a “diploma mill.”

Transcripts given to GothamSchools by current and former teachers show that in the last year, dozens of students at Herbert Lehman High School have been given credit for courses they failed or never took.

In some instances, a student failed a class, passed the Regents exam by a slim margin, and then had his failing grade overturned. In others, students were given two credits for a class they passed once, or for classes that never appeared on their schedules.

Changing students’ grades is commonplace in the city’s schools and is often done by principals and teachers for legitimate reasons. In some cases, students are given credit recovery, meaning they complete a project, make up work, or re-take part of a class in order to get a passing grade. Other times, students who are on the cusp of passing a class can receive a boost from a Regents exam they passed by a substantial margin.

But teachers said that at Lehman, students are getting credit without doing any work. Dozens of students have had their failing grades overturned without their teachers’ knowledge.

Or this one from 2010:

A Queens high-school principal is under investigation for allegedly granting students more than 1,000 extra credits for phantom classes — and then deleting all records of his actions.

The city Department of Education called for the probe a day after The Post reported that Jamaica HS Principal Walter Acham gave foreign students up to 10 extra credits each for classes purportedly taken in their native countries.

His motive? To improve promotion and graduation rates, said staffers, adding that the credits were given “to every kid who had a foreign last name.”

The DOE at first denied any wrongdoing but “took a closer look at the school’s data” after The Post’s report, said a spokesman.

It found that the school had recently erased some 1,100 credits to about 150 students for 606 “foreign transfer courses.”

Jamaica HS’s progress-report score then fell from 46.4 to 45 — which equals a “D.”

Staffers said Acham’s credit scheme was conducted with assistant principal Denyse Prendergast, a DOE liaison assigned to assist the struggling school, which serves a large number of students learning English.

Some experts blame such shenanigans on DOE pressure to boost data. Leonie Haimson of Class Size Matters said, “I’m sure it’s happening throughout the city, but teachers are too scared to speak out because they don’t want to see their schools closed down.”

Or this one from 2011:

Four city high schools have been under investigation since as far back as January 2010 for alleged Regents tampering or scoring inflation that could have fraudulently boosted their graduation rates, The Post has learned.

At least one of the schools being eyed, Bronx Expeditionary Learning HS, was flagged by a state Education Department review that found staffers had awarded too many points for students’ answers to open-ended questions in the August 2010 integrated-algebra test.

Probes of the other schools — the American Sign Language and English Secondary School in Manhattan, Science Skills Center HS in Brooklyn and Lehman HS in The Bronx — were alluded to in a follow-up audit of Regents scoring practices that was released this week by state Comptroller Thomas DiNapoli.

The initial audit had found that many schools “tended to award full credit even when answers were vague, incomplete, inaccurate or insufficiently detailed, and as a result, their scores tended to be higher than the scores awarded” by a team of independent reviewers.


The allegations of Regents misdeeds at Lehman HS — which sources said include charges that scores on the January 2009 living-environment, Earth-science, English and chemistry exams were changed after staffers had graded them — are part of a second long-running cheating probe at the embattled Bronx school. 

Or the "credit recovery" practices under Bloomberg/Klein from 2008:

Dennis Bunyan showed up for his first-semester senior English class at Wadleigh Secondary School in Harlem so rarely that, as he put it, “I basically didn’t attend.”

But despite his sustained absence, Mr. Bunyan got the credit he needed to graduate last June by completing just three essay assignments, which he said took about 10 hours.

“I’m grateful for it, but it also just seems kind of, you know, outrageous,” Mr. Bunyan said. “There’s no way three essays can possibly cover a semester of work.”

Mr. Bunyan was able to graduate through what is known as credit recovery — letting those who lack credits make them up by means other than retaking a class or attending traditional summer school.
Although his principal said the makeup assignments were as rigorous as regular course work, Mr. Bunyan’s English teacher, Charan Morris, was so troubled that she boycotted the graduation ceremony, writing in an e-mail message to students that she believed some were “being pushed through the system regardless of whether they have done the work to earn their diploma.”

Throughout the city, an ad hoc system of helping students like Mr. Bunyan over the hump is taking root in public high schools, sometimes over the protests of teachers, who call credit recovery programs a poor substitute for classroom learning and say they ultimately devalue the diploma. In interviews, teachers or principals at more than a dozen schools said the programs ranged from five-day crunch sessions over school breaks, to interactive computer programs culminating in an online test, to independent study packets — and varied in quality.

Top officials with the city’s Education Department say good principals have always found creative ways to help struggling students make up missed work, describing such efforts as a lifeline for students who might otherwise never earn their diplomas. And across the country, school systems confronting abysmal graduation rates are turning to online credit recovery courses, which roughly a third of states have either developed or endorsed in recent years, according to the National Dropout Prevention Center at Clemson University.

Schools Chancellor Joel I. Klein, in a statement, called credit recovery “a legitimate and important strategy for working with high school students.” He said there was “no indication” that the practice “has been abused more in recent years.”

“If credit recovery is not conducted properly, just as with any other required course, we will take appropriate action,” he added. “We do students no favors by giving them credit they haven’t earned.”

But city officials acknowledged that credit recovery programs are neither centrally monitored nor tracked. 

Ah yes - no chance that "credit recovery" will be abused when the DOE wasn't monitoring or tracking the programs, is there?

I don't recall the Assembly calling Bloomberg up to Albany to explain the cheating allegations in the system under his control?

I also don't recall Bloomberg being called up to Albany to defend unmonitored, untracked "credit recovery" programs in city schools that essentially gave students semester credits for watching movies and reading comic books.

Did I miss that performance or did it not happen?

Is de Blasio getting targeted because he's, well, de Blasio, and Bloomberg got the kid glove treatment because he's, well, a billionaire who gave a lot of money to Albany politicians?

This grade fixing scandal is another example of the NY Post going hard and heavy at de Blasio, looking to damage him and take him out from re-election.

They've been doing it with high profile crime stories (claiming there is a "crime wave" in Central Park when there is nothing of the sort) and they're doing it with the grade tampering story.

Cheating took place under Bloomberg too but somehow the newspapers and Albany politicians didn't decide it was Bloomberg's fault, unlike now, with de Blasio.

That's not to excuse the cheating - just to point out the double standard with which the media and politicians treated had when the cheating took place under Bloomberg.


  1. Maybe it's time to use Facebook to spread messages about Ra and Felder so that they don't get their jobs back in the next election.

    1. By all means, spread this post on Facebook.

      It's important to point out the sheer magnitude of cheating under Bloomberg - much of it known by the DOE and ignored until they were forced to deal with it.

  2. A lot went on under Mike "juking the stats" Bloomberg.

    Small schools were better than traditional schools (creaming).
    More students were graduating (social promotion at any cost).
    More students were going into college (remedial classes be damned).
    More schools were being graded "A" (must be election time).

    What a farce.

    1. Great points, Pogue. I'm beginning to compile the cheating/juking from the Bloomberg Years, so if you can think of more, post them.

  3. Under the Bloomberg/Klein/Walcott administration the practices now cited regarding academic fraud came to fruition. Having taught for more than 30years the initiation of practices such as; online course credit, credit recovery, component retesting, and skirting state requirements for student seat time became prevalent. Unfortunately the DeBlasio administration has been slow if not offering a blind eye to the corrupt practices that have turned the NYC public schools into the prototype for the reform minded elite. You are so correct in pointing out the hypocrisy in not placing the blame on Bloomberg & Company.

    1. Blind eye turned no more -

  4. Off topic, but I wanted to mention what's going on in Ohio that's super cool.

    Apparently 41 school districts are joining up to form an advocacy group for more local control.

    Very smart.

  5. There are two reasons and two reasons only for the mayoral control controversy: 1) The mayor tried to elect at Democrat state Senate majority. 2) The GOP craves the massive contributions from the charter school crowd. Republicans need these monies to maintain their power and they also use them to live off of. Look at the LI 9's campaign finance disclosure forms and you will see them all spending monies on cars, phones, food, tolls, parking, gifts, etc. They don't want to pay for anything out of their own pockets, so they sell all of us out.

    1. That's right. It's payback at de Blasio for the 2014 election cycle. And of course GOP (or Felder) never went at Bloomberg because he contributed millions to them.

  6. I have been writing about the academic fraud for the last 8 years. Just take a look at the credit recovery and bogus graduation articles on my blog.

    1. Indeed you have, Chaz. I will point that out on Twitter as well.

  7. Mr. Bloomberg and Mr. Klein were the champions of academic fraud. They re-engineered the school system to intimidate teachers to bring their pass rates up to 90%.
    I was bullied many times both verbally and in writing to improve my pass rate. I received a letter on my file regarding a low pass rate and I my pedagogy was blamed and defamed. Mr. Bloomberg engaged in a kind of scorched earth economic war against teachers and the UFT. In the end I received a U rating because of low pass rates. The UFT leaders were bought out by wealthy reformista Billionaires. Randi was given prime time speaking opportunity at the Democratic National Convention and a check for $10,000,000 from the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation.
    As a result, at the time I considered commuting suicide. I decided to record on my IPhone all conversations with administrators and all of the school meetings. I have a massive trove of evidence against the DOE at this point.

    1. Thanks for sharing your experience. There was so much pressure under Bloomberg/Klein and Bloomberg/Walcott and little oversight for individual schools. So long as the data looked good and you could put a dog and pony show on for QR, all was well.

  8. One of the basic premises of propaganda, developed first by Joseph Goebbels but then refined by Joseph McCarthy, is the "Big Lie." The Big Lie was described in detail during WWII in a report by the Office of Strategic Services, the precursor to the CIA:

    "Never allow the public to cool off; never admit a fault or a wrong, never concede that there may be some good in your enemy; never leave room for alternatives; never accept blame; concentrate on one enemy at a time and blame him for everything that goes wrong; people will believe a big lie sooner than a little one; and if you repeat it frequently enough people will sooner or later believe it."

    Our reformista adversaries have learned the power of the Big Lie and use it against us relentlessly. We teachers, by nature and training believers in "facts" and "truth" and "complexity," respond to the Big Lie with careful amassing of evidence and counter-assertion to demonstrate the falseness of the Big Lie.

    But the Big Lie is very effective as propaganda for the very reason that it is impervious to rebuttal by "facts" or "truth" or demonstrations of its inherent falsity.

    That's why reformistas use it. That's why the Post uses it here. And we can assert all the "truth" and all the "facts" we want to each other but the Big Lie, when supported by the resources that the reformistas have at their disposal, cannot be disproved. A small lie can easily be demolished. The Big Lie is so audacious that it lives forever.