Saturday, May 9, 2009

David Brooks is More Clueless Than Ever

You just have to read David Brooks' "Harlem Miracle" piece in yesterday's NY Times where he says "We may have found a remedy for the achievement gap." The best is this quote from ed deformer shill Roland Fryer, "What Geoffrey Canada, Harlem Children’s Zone’s founder and president, has done is “the equivalent of curing cancer for these kids.""

You know the ed deformer mantra about "no excuses" or that "throwing money at the problem doesn't solve it."

Well. check out a few facts about Harlem Children's Zone sent by Leonie:

According to 60 minutes,

“Harlem Children’s Zone raises $36 million in private funds per year. Classes have a ratio of one adult for every six kids as well as state-of-the-art science labs, a first-class gym, and a cafeteria that looks more like a restaurant.”

According to the school’s data on the 2007-8 school report card,

Class sizes are 18 in K-6th grade, and in 8th grade they range from 12 to 20 kids per class, depending on the subject.

According to the same school report card, the school enrolls 1% ELL students.

According to other state sources, it has 0 % special ed students.

Now, of course, if we had a union that was not collaborating with the ed deformers, they would be using their vast resources based on our dues to do the work of exposing these shams instead of leaving it to Leonie, running on a shoe-string budget, to do.

I didn't even get to the arrogance about middle class and poor people values. I found the values of many poor people I worked with more generous and less mean spirited than so-called middle class values. Give me these kids to work with over the middle class kids any day.

Another comment on the NYC Education News listserve did deal with it.

Yes, but aside from all the benefits offered in these schools, look at what else they offer--what Brooks calls "no excuse schools":

"... an emerging model for low-income students....The basic theory is that middle-class kids enter adolescence with certain working models in their heads: what I can achieve; how to control impulses; how to work hard. Many kids from poorer, disorganized homes don’t have these internalized models. The schools create a disciplined, orderly and demanding counterculture to inculcate middle-class values....

Basically, the no excuses schools pay meticulous attention to behavior and attitudes. They teach students how to look at the person who is talking, how to shake h ands. These schools are academically rigorous and college-focused. Promise Academy students who are performing below grade level spent twice as much time in school as other students in New York City . ... Nearly half of the teachers did not return for the 2005-2006 school year. A third didn’t return for the 2006-2007 year. Assessments are rigorous. Standardized tests are woven into the fabric of school life.

... Ever since welfare reform, we have had success with intrusive government programs that combine paternalistic leadership, sufficient funding and a ferocious commitment to traditional, middle-class values. We may have found a remedy for the achievement gap."

I'm sure this has long been discussed and debated, but is this "paternalistic, intrusive" program the best way of closing the achivement gap?"

Ed Notes has commented on previous columns by Brooks on education.
A Clueless David Brooks
Pathetic Letter to Times From Weingarten


Independent Educator said...

I'm not sure I understand what you're trying to say... Is it a sham because, while they claim to get results, they do it under much better circumstances than their public school counterparts?
I understand that it is important not to compare apples to oranges (a run-of-the-mill NYC public school to a charter with smaller classes, better facilities and deeper pockets) but if they are doing a good job educating children, is that a bad thing?

ed notes online said...

The point is that true ed reformers are calling for all schools to be funded with all these services. Notethe class size. Brooks takes the stand that this is a miracle. Look at the teacher turnover and all the other factors. You don't see how he is totally off base here?

NYC Educator said...

Personally, I have to disagree. I don't find David Brooks any more clueless than usual. Admittedly, I don't find him any less clueless either.

Unknown said...

Certainly Brooks does the education reform debate a disservice by suggesting that Promise Academy is a model that can be applied on a large-scale.

But he also disingenuously cites the success of Promise Academy as evidence for the "no excuses," school-centric approach to education reform over the other side of the debate that argues that reform must involve the entire community and environment surrounding the students.

Boston Review has a new article that argues Promise Academy is actually a synthesis of the two camps, while also worrying about the applicability of Promise Academy and other models of education reform, like the KIPP schools, to wide-scale educational approaches. Check it out at