Saturday, August 21, 2010

All the Letters Not Fit to Print in the NY Times

Hi Norm,
Very frustrating that the same people who misled the public on student achievement are still calling the shots. Attached are 3 letters I wrote the the Times that they weren't interested in. Perhaps you could put them in the blog.

Three recent letters that the New York Times did not see its way clear to print.

Responding to “Parents Need to Know,” editorial, Aug. 18, New York Times

Parents and students as well as every New York City taxpayer have every right to be outraged over the Chancellor's handling of the school system. For the past 8 years, the chancellor and mayor have bragged about the spectacular gains of our students under their leadership. In fact, by any objective measurement, our schools are failing to provide even a basic education to a majority of students. You give the impression that the chancellor requested the realignment of the 3rd-8th grade tests. If that were the case, he would not hesitate to heed the results and resign immediately. Billions have been thrown away on 4 rounds of reorganizations, garbage data analysis and smoke and mirrors professional development schemes. The PEP has no right to expect parents to sit quietly while the same people who have bamboozled us for the last 8 years deny any responsibility for failing to create the conditions for a sound education for public school students.

Matthew Frisch

Responding to "Triumph Fades on Racial Gap in City Schools", 8/16/10, New York Times

The numbers indicate that the impact of mayoral control on NY City's public school students has been an equal opportunity failure- basic skills as measured by the 3rd-8th grades state tests have suffered across racial and ethnic groups. Those who started off the neediest are mired there still. This trend is not confined to city schools. Student achievement as measured by the newly invigorated state tests, is stagnant throughout the state. So perhaps we cannot single out the mayor and chancellor. The blame lies with the mind set that expects a quick return on the investment we make in our young people. The system demands instant payback in the form of high test scores. Students, teachers and schools have to be constantly proving themselves. Under this kind of pressure, who has the time or patience to build a strong foundation in the basics when children in other schools might be racing ahead? The result is middle and high schoolers who can't spell or do arithmetic. What's needed is a sensible curriculum and an end to the mind set that puts unrealistic goals and empty slogans ahead of the needs of our students.

Matthew Frisch

Responding to: When 81% Passing Suddenly Becomes 18%, by Sharon Otterman and Robert Gebeloff, Sunday, August 1, 2010, New York Times

An Accountability Moment

Elementary school teachers knew that the rising test scores were illusory. We were forbidden to teach a sensible curriculum and as a result, our students' basic skills in reading and math had, on average, declined. How could they possibly be meeting expectations if they lacked the basics? There was abundant corroboration that the state tests were unreliable. The city's National Assessment of Educational Progress scores were flat while scores on the state tests soared. The percentage of freshmen at CUNY needing remediation has been rising; SAT scores have been falling.

It's time for a thorough accounting of the money that has been thrown to the wind by the mayor and his Department of Education. What is the total cost of the endless reorganizations; the bloated central bureaucracy; the testing and data obsessions that have proven so delusional; the no-bid contracts; the emperor's new clothes professional development schemes?

This is a massive fraud, costing 10s of $millions. Despite constant claims by the mayor and chancellor, our public schools have deteriorated over the 8 years of mayoral control. Could it be that the people who have been cooking the grading books and mismanaging our schools for the last 8 years will continue in the driver's seat? Taxpayers are entitled to a full-scale investigation of the test score fraud. NY City's public school students are entitled to a sensible curriculum and to educational leaders who have a successful track record teaching it.

Matthew Frisch

Matt is a NYC teacher

1 comment:

Anonymous said...


Your letters are all right on. I guess censorship in this country is real. Then you read some of the editorials in the Daily News and you get even more disgusted. WHen did the papers become so strongly supportive of corrupt administrations?