Thursday, January 16, 2014

The Daily Howler On NY Times Confusing Farina Story

Do you understand that story? We don’t! If the school [PS 6] was so good when Farina was assigned there, why did it need a “renaissance” or an “upward swing?” If Farina was tasked with bringing the school “to an even higher level of performance,” why did it need to “blossom?”
... Daily Howler
While I generally liked the Javier Hernandez story on Farina, I to was puzzled by this contradiction the Howler points to. Here it is in full. I love it when he takes down the Times -- which is about every 5 minutes.




The attempt to report skool newz: In a report from today’s front page, Javier Hernandez profiles Carmen Farina, Mayor de Blasio’s choice to head the New York City schools.
In the following passage, Hernandez describes a promotion Farina received after she was identified as an outstanding teacher:
HERNANDEZ (1/15/14): Ms. Fariña’s results had caught the attention of top New York education officials, who in 1991 offered her one of the most difficult jobs in the school system: principal of P.S. 6, a 900-student school in the heart of one of the country’s wealthiest ZIP codes.
The elementary school had long been synonymous with prestige and academic excellence; it counted former Mayor Robert F. Wagner, the rock star Lenny Kravitz and the actor Chevy Chase among its graduates. The challenge was bringing P.S. 6 to an even higher level of performance without alienating a demanding group of parents: doctors, lawyers and building superintendents among them.
Already, we’re puzzled. As described, it’s hard to imagine how P.S. 6 could have been “one of the most difficult jobs in the [New York City] school system.”

That said, the report only becomes more puzzling as Hernandez labors on. Eventually, he writes this:
HERNANDEZ: P.S. 6 blossomed under Ms. Fariña, surging to become one of the city’s top 10 schools in reading and math scores, which Mr. de Blasio trumpeted in announcing her appointment as chancellor. But it is difficult to say how much she contributed to its renaissance.
The school’s upward swing began before Ms. Fariña arrived, city testing data shows. During her tenure, there was also an influx of wealthier families and a simultaneous decline in the number of poor children.
In 2001, the year Ms. Fariña left the school, 7 percent of students came from impoverished backgrounds, compared with 12 percent a decade earlier. And the proportion of white students had grown to 80 percent, from 72 percent.
Do you understand that story? We don’t! If the school was so good when Farina was assigned there, why did it need a “renaissance” or an “upward swing?” If Farina was tasked with bringing the school “to an even higher level of performance,” why did it need to “blossom?”
Presumably, no deadline pressure afflicted this piece. Hernandez’s writing just doesn’t make sense. Editors at the New York Times routinely miss such problems. 

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