Sunday, February 8, 2009

Debunking the Myth - Is Mayoral Control working for the benefit of NYC school children?

I'm not sure where this came from - probably from the NYC parent listserve - but I just found it on my desktop.

Low and behold I did find out. It was written by ICE's Loretta Prisco.

Teamed with Diane Ravitch's testimony - check post below - this devastating attack on the BloomKlein tenure will be just another that will be ignored by the press.

Debunking the Myth - Is Mayoral Control working for the benefit of NYC school children?

by Loretta Prisco

After 7 years, many answer with a resounding “No!” Yet, the spin coming from Tweed, supported by the influence of Bloomberg media, is drowning out the voices of those who have first hand knowledge.

Let’s separate the promise from the reality.

Did the system rid itself of nepotism and corruption?

Promise: Tweed promised to end to corruption and nepotism.
Reality: Same corruption, different players, now corporate lined pockets.

Five employees of the DOE were hired within a year of leaving the DOE in violation of NYC’s conflict-of-interest law. One operated a tour-bus firm doing business with the DOE while employed. 2-8-08 –Goan – NY Post.

NYC agencies must send contracts out to bid. Tweed routinely contracts out, completely ignoring the bid process. One result: A contract with Snapple and teachers and students pay a quarter more for drinks.

The DOE holds multimillion-dollar no-bid contracts with outside companies ($80 million contract CTB McGraw Hill alone).

The DOE, in a no bid contract, awarded a British company approximately $6.5 million plus travel and lodging expenses to conduct school reviews.

The Fund for Public Schools launched a two-month ad campaign bolstering administration claims that scores were rising. It is not mentioned that Klein was the fund's chairman or that the mayor's friends, including the Broad Foundation, had helped pay the $1 million cost of the ad campaign. Sol Stern, columnist

Did the additional funding we received go to the classroom?

Promise : The reorganization is sending additional funding directly to the schools.
Reality: Funding to the classroom has not increased.

Although our education budget has grown by $500,000,000 there has been a loss of over $80 million for instruction. Noreen Connell, Educational Priorities Panel.

“When I asked the Chancellor on Monday why he wanted to cut budgets for these schools (low performing), he said they were over funded and that money is not that important, anyway.” Patrick Sullivan, PEP member, 6-07

Of the city employees who earn $150,000 or more, 40% work at Tweed. NY Post

The DOE’s communications office is 29-strong, four times as many employees as worked in the press office under the old BOE. And that doesn't include the city hall press operation, which often joins in promoting new education initiatives, or the substantial public-relations and marketing services that the administration has received from companies, either pro bono or paid for by third-party private contributions. Sol Stern, columnist

Tweed employees have increased by more than 500 in the last 5 years (1,832 in 2003 to 2,337 in 2008).

Has student performance improved?

Promise: Student Performance will increase.
Reality: As Mark Twain once said, there are three kinds of lies, big lies, little lies and statistics. Tests and test results reported to the public have been manipulated.

2006-2007: The scores dropped for every grade as the students moved from one grade to the next. (Grades 3-7) in ELA.

Although NYC 8th grade ELA assessments increased, they increased all of the State. The test was decidedly easier. (NYC increased 5.5 points, Roosevelt, a failing district, increased 22 points.)

The Children First program was not introduced into the schools until September 2003. The Children First reforms had nothing to do with the large gains registered between 2002 and 2003 on the federal or state tests. Any improvements in that year should be credited to the previous chancellor, Harold Levy. The NAEP reports show that New York City public school students recorded no gains on the federal tests in fourth-grade reading or eighth-grade reading or eighth-grade mathematics between 2003 and 2007. Only in fourth-grade mathematics were there significant gains. The federal report plainly says that there were no significant gains for any group of students — white, black, Hispanic, Asian, or lower-income — during this period, except in fourth grade mathematics. Diane Ravitch, NY Sun, Letter to the Editor, March 6, 2008

To say that "performance has increased" reduces children's education to test taking. It's a circular argument: you limit the definition of education to a test score, pump up the scores by various means, then claim you've increased "performance." English teacher (Michael)

Has class size been reduced with the funding earmarked for that purpose?

Promise: The successful 12 year legal battle produced funding to reduce class size.
Reality: Wrong again. Even when you win, you lose in this system. Despite declining enrollment and almost $200 million in state and federal funds dedicated to reducing class size, there has been a relatively small drop in class sizes.

The Independent Budget Office shows that 61% of New York City’s public school kindergarten to third-grade classrooms exceeded the state’s early grade class size standard of 20 students per class last year. That target is part and parcel of the early grade class size reduction initiatives approved by the state 10 years ago… - Randi Weingarten, UFT,9-25-07

Accountability is the mantra of this administration. Who is being held accountable?

Promise: The system is accountable. At the bill signing ceremony giving the Mayor control, Bloomberg said, "give the school system the one thing it fundamentally needs: accountability."

Reality: After six years of totally controlling the schools, the only people held accountable are principals who have some decision making power and teachers and students who have none. Tweed is not held accountable.

After being elected, how does one hold the Mayor accountable?

Bloomberg's suggestion: "Boo me at parades."

“The way you treat our educators is part and parcel of the way you treat our students — constantly barraging them with narrow, deadening tests and demoralizing them with meaningless scores,” Jan Carr, Parent, Salk School of Science, letter to the chancellor.

In some cases, schools receiving A’s and B’s are failing under No Child Left Behind, which largely examines the proportion of students meeting standards.

With so many teachers retiring, are certified teachers in the classroom?

Promise: 100% of the teachers are now certified.

Reality: Some truth here – all teachers are now certified, but not all are teaching in their area of certification. Harold Levy, former Chancellor, under threat of a lawsuit by the NYS Commissioner, began the Fellows program which provided certified teachers.

With leadership a key component of good schools, how are our principals doing?

Promise: Schools Chancellor Joel Klein said the placement and performance of the graduates (of the Leadership Academy that he has initiated) has been strong.

Reality: The huge number of experienced leaders who have retired coupled with the addition of many principals who have limited or no teaching experience has left a serious hole.

After spending over $7 million, an average of $146,000 per graduate, one-third of graduates of Klein’s Leadership Academy are not leading our schools. Citywide, 23 percent of schools earned A's on their report cards, but only15% led by academy grads got A's. Despite a 5 year commitment letter, some were allowed to leave without penalty.

About half of the schools headed by Leadership Academy principals last year received grades of C, D or F in school report cards. PRINCIPAL TRAINING 'LEADS' NOWHERE ACADEMY GIVES CITY FLUNKIES Klein and Montefinist, Post, 11-11-07

How was this system reorganized? Who makes policy?

Promise: Teachers and parents on the committees helped reorganize the schools. Our schools will be transparent and welcome participation.

Reality: When a FOIL request was made, it was disclosed that neither teachers nor parents were on the committees. NYS law which mandates School Leadership Teams has been violated as all decision making as been given to principals.

The suddenness and number of these changes (to the school system) were purposefully made to produce “creative confusion” in the system, and “that in eight years we might finally see improvements. By doing the reorganization and actually causing some creative confusion in the system, it does make it harder for people to just rock back….I think in eight years you can expect the system will make adjustments." - Joel Klein, SI Advance Editorial Board, 12-03

Tweed instituted a grade holdover policy despite 20 years of research indicating that it is harmful to children.

Members of the PEP opposing the policy were fired on the evening of the vote.

Saved the best for last – in a category all it’s own.

A school in the Bronx is being closed because it got an F on its DOE report card and was said to be failing. At the same time each teacher and para received $3,000 because they made such “progress”. Now doesn’t that sound like a system that is working.

As much as we would like to congratulate Klein for a job well done for our students, the only job well done has been one in public relations.


  1. Lies, lies, lies! Is THIS the "transparency" and "accountability" that the Bloomberg administration applies to ITSELF? What hypocrites!

  2. joel Klein was a real cutie this morning on abc news. His get rid of anyone over 30, except himself, agenda showed through loud and clear. He wants to fire all the rubber room teachers en masse in 3 months in a kangeroo court with no due process. And randi "senator" weingarten will willingly go along on the next contract in the guise of I Averted the Layoffs, glory headlines.


Comments are welcome. Irrelevant and abusive comments will be deleted, as will all commercial links. Comment moderation is on, so if your comment does not appear it is because I have not been at my computer (I do not do cell phone moderating). Or because your comment is irrelevant or idiotic.