Wednesday, August 1, 2007

NYC Grad Rates Rising?

Samuel Freedman's column in today's NY Times (posted here) finally touches on the source of DOE claims for rising grad rates. Of course the DOE attacked the teacher (unfortunately there were a few negatives). I raised these issues in my 2 minute presentation at the July PEP meeting. Teachers have been reporting grade inflation, being told to mark the exams of their own students (with a wink), enormous pressures to pass kids who are failing, etc.

The state ed department has a hand in all this to make sure everyone all around looks good - easier exams, shady rubrics (if the kid fogs a mirror, PASS.)

A column I wrote in The Wave and on this blog called "Indecent Exposure" back in December touched on these issues:
Inflated test scores and cover-ups of massive cheating scandals in addition to scores being pumped up by constant test prep. “Test-mania fuels cheating at many schools, teachers say,” said just one headline that is just the tip of the iceberg. The overwhelming majority of school personnel will remain silent due to fear. (Maria Colon, the union rep at JFK HS in the Bronx, was persecuted because she exposed her administration, which has gotten off Scot-free.)

Teachers toe the line, especially newer, inexperienced teachers. The attack on senior teachers (anyone with about 7 years in today's world) is not just about money, but compliance in solidifying the sham BloomKlein are pulling.

At the end of my presentation at the PEP I pointed out that we can see even higher grad rates once the principals get their hands on the bonus money.

Going up, anyone?


  1. Sam Freedmans' article is a perfect example of what is taking place in classrooms throughout New York City. While he exposes this one case, countless teachers and even administrators admit that this is common practice by the DOE. It should be easy enough to prove to the public that this practice is pervasive. Just publicize the number of regents review classes and tutoring classes whose sole purpose is to pass a required exam needed for graduation. And yes, many teachers are afraid and either capitulate or leave the system. The State knows and has numerous requests for investigation but guess what??? They turn it over to Klein's office of special investigation. Do you think there will be a true investigation???? So much for ending social promotion..

  2. Social promotion is alive and well in NYC schools. Thanks to Sam Freedman for his article and thanks to Norm for putting this out. Also we respect the teachers like Maria Colon who speak out.

  3. Freedman's article is important, and we need many more articles like this in the local press to overturn the spinmasters at the DOE. (Didn't we read somewhere that they increased their PR budget?)

    Much appreciation goes to the guidance counselors who do their best to back us when evidence shows that a student hasn't earned a passing grade. In this environment, they are brave, and they are good colleagues.

    Occasionally I take the stance that I personally will not change a failing mark to a passing grade, but if an AP or principal wants to override me, that's their business. Let it be on their conscience. It's the best we can do until this climate of deception and fake scholarship changes.

    One more thing. Have you noticed that it is getting harder and harder to define for kids what actually constitutes "cheating"? So many of them just don't get it. They sit next to each other in class, and in spite of being specifically told to do their own work, they look openly at each other's papers and exchange information. When you call them on it and define this act of sharing at the wrong time as "cheating," they look at you as if you're from Mars. They claim it's not cheating, but helping each other. Kind of like what administrators do when they want us to "help" them get the statistics (and bonuses!) they're looking for.

    When educators are administered by people who cheat, it's bound to seep right on down through the ranks. And when it gets to the last people in the chain, our students, they don't know the difference between "work" and "your own work." It's all the same to them, and nothing matters. Scholarship, and morality, are both sacrificed for distorted notions of achievement and success.

  4. I wonder if the tutor provided by the school administration (NY Times Article-Sam Freedman) had a copy of the final examination given to the student?? I am sure that then she received a 66% and was passed so that she could graduate. That is not social promotion, that is fraud. The principal and assistant principal should be investigated and brought up on charges.

  5. Posted on ICE mail:

    Jeff Andrusin said...

    I believe that grades get changed and the pressure to change them is immense,. I also have problems with Mr Lampros and how he was presented:

    "It's almost as if you stick to your morals and your ethics, you'll end up without a job," Mr. Lampros said in an interview.

    I guess his ethics are; to resign and returned to his home state, Michigan.

    The principal and officials in the Department of Education say that he missed 24 school days during the
    last year for illness and personal reasons. He missed two of the three sets of parent-teacher conferences.
    Mr. Lampros said all of this was true.

    Mr. Lampros, disgusted, did not come to school the next two days, after finding out the grade was

    I guess my question is...when did he get disillusioned? After the first 10 days he took...after the first parent teacher conference?

    It seems that the disillusionment was fermenting for a long time.

    I am not in any way defending the admin, but I am also taking the UFT to task, where was the chpt leader?
    Who advised him to take two days off to register his displeasure, knowing full well he was over on his days?

    Was this guy a teaching fellow? I wonder of the businessman mayor ever did a return on investment study of the fellows program?

    Our school and NYC lost another three fellows this year, at least ten fellows over the last two years. Anyone have current stats on this?

    Sorry for the rant and ramblings.

    Anonymous said...

    I also wondered about the behavior of Mr. Lampros but having watched both of the teaching fellows in my elementary school wither away and quit by Christmas vacation this past year, I feel somewhat sympathetic. (I think these two young people returned to their homes in Iowa and Michigan, although one is now working in private business in NYC). Jeff raises a good question: What are the stats regarding retention of the Teaching Fellows? I'd guess that they are very poor. But in terms of an investment, I'd say that the city is doing well hiring them, even if they only last a year or less, as their salaries are nice and low.

    Jeff Kaufman said...

    While I agree with Jeff that the Union was clearly missing from this article and cannot agree with him that the alleged “excessive” days off indicates in any way he was a poor teacher or that he somehow “abandoned” his responsibilities.

    While this clearly was not meant to be a pro teacher piece I think we fell into the “blame the victim” trap when we question, like the administration does, the number of days you take off as proof of the lack of professionalism one exhibits. There are a number of questions that we all have but the bottom line is that by all accounts we lost an excellent teacher who was treated like a part of an assembly line rather than a professional. I would bet that once this teacher ran into teacher issues with his administration and knew there was no one to turn to he pretty much gave up.

    I hope stories like these will show how union-management complicity causes our children to lose out on professionals who should be respected for their abilities; not shunned.

    10:05 AM, August 02, 2007

  6. Seriously, does ICE even serve a real purpose other than to drive a wedge within our union? Has ICE ever accomplished anything worthy of mention? And no, a sham presidential candidate in the last election, shoddy quality YouTube films, and heckling during the Delegate Assembly doesn't count.

    -Son Of Unity, the next generation
    I'll be back!


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