Acrobats Performing on the Edge Of The Empire State Building
It is to be expected with a left wing mayor intent on protecting the unionised education workforce.
Technically speaking, New York state Education Commissioner John King was correct when he insisted last week that âwe are not retreatingâ on school standards. So true â itâs more like a surrender.
Kingâs attempt to put a happy face on the rout was wishful thinking, as the parade of white flags reveals. The commissioner has been admirably bold in pushing onward, but now marches mostly alone.
From Albany to City Hall, the education-reform movement is grinding to a halt. Meaningful teacher evaluations and standardized tests for students are either on hold or moving into the mushy world of educrat gobbledygook, where vapid self-esteem is prized more than real results.
To be sure, the collapse didnât happen all at once. It recalls the Ernest Hemingway dialogue in âThe Sun Also Rises.â
When a man asks, âHow did you go bankrupt?â another answers, âTwo ways. Gradually, then suddenly.â
So it is with the collapse of standards. What started as a trickle is now a gusher wiping away the tentative progress on accountability.
The biggest blow came with an innocuous-sounding press release from city Schools Chancellor Carmen FariĂ±a. She announced a new promotion policy for grades 3 through 8 that âtakes the temperature down around testingâ while allowing âeducators to make decisions about the students they know best while maintaining high standards.â
In plain English, that means that even if tests show Johnny canât read, weâre giving him a gold star and sending him on to the next grade, where heâll fall further behind before being passed on again. Thatâs the gist of social promotion, and itâs now Âofficial city policy.
Mayor de Blasio later boasted of the move, saying, âWeâre Âgoing to in every way we can move away from high-stakes testing.â
Presumably, that means he favors low-stakes testing, which is testing that doesnât matter. Welcome to the new mayorâs education plan, where heâll be able to claim victory because failure has been outlawed. Â Read more »
NYC Grand Central Station, 1929
New York Aerial Police Force StuntÂ (1920) Read more »
Labour, the Greens and the teacher unions all hate charter schools.
They can produce no evidence to support their claims, they just hate them because they do not like the challenge to the hegemony and control of the unions in our schools.
OF THE 658 schools in Chicago, only 126 are charter schoolsâpublicly funded but independently run and largely free of union rules. Fifteen more are due to open this year. More notable, though, is that four of the most recently-approved charters are in areas where the city recently decided to close 49 public schoolsâthe largest round of such closures in Americaâs history.
Most of the closed schools served poor black children, and were in parts of the city with a shrinking population. The city government argued that these schools were under-used, and that closing them would save $233m that could be reinvested. So it has been: in new science labs, computers, wireless, libraries, art rooms and air conditioning in the charters that took in children from the closed schools.
Charters have worked well in Chicago. Most parents like them, and Mayor Rahm Emanuel and the Board of Education are behind them. The Noble Network, which already runs 14 charter high schools, has just been given permission to open two new ones. Around 36% of the 9,000, mostly poor, children enrolled with Noble can expect to graduate from college, compared with 11% for this income bracket city-wide.
A 2013 study by Stanford University found that the typical Illinois charter pupil (most of them in Chicago) gained two weeks of additional learning in reading, and a month in maths, over their counterparts in traditional public schools. One city network of charters, Youth Connection, is credited with reducing Chicagoâs dropout rate by 7% in a decade. Overall, however, the cityâs public schools are in a sorry state: 51,000 out of 240,000 elementary-school pupils did not meet state reading standards in 2013.
Some will always argue that charters cream off the brighter children and leave sink schools, deprived of resources, behind. The teachersâ unions hate charter schools because they are non-unionised. So they remain a rarity nationwide, with only 5% of children enrolled in them. But a PDK/Gallup poll last year found that 70% of Americans support them. Small wonder: a study of charter high schools in Florida found that they boosted pupilsâ earning power in later life by more than 10%.Â Read more »