Archives for category: New York City

Gary Rubinstein posted a review of Joel Klein’s book by someone who worked in Klein’s Department of Education central offices for many years.

 

I have not read Joel Klein’s book. I have had calls from two reporters asking if what he said about me was true. I asked, what did he say? They said: He claimed that I had turned against “education reform” (e.g., charters, merit pay, school closings, and high-stakes testing) because he refused to give a job to my partner or promote her or fund her program. I answered that I never asked Joel Klein to give a job to my partner; I never asked him to promote her or to fund her program.

 

When Klein arrived in 2002, she was executive director in charge of principal training at the New York City Board of Education. Just about the time Klein started as Chancellor, her program won a competitive federal grant of $3 million as one of the best principal training programs in the nation. My partner had been a teacher for many years, the chairman of social studies at Edward R. Murrow High School, one of the best in the city, and the founder and principal of a small public high school in Manhattan, affiliated with Ted Sizer’s Coalition of Essential Schools and Deborah Meier’s network of small schools.. Chancellor Harold Levy asked her to create a program to help hundreds of new principals. Her program was built around the concepts of collaboration, mutual respect, and mentorship; she recruited some of the city’s best, most experienced principals to exchange regular visits with new principals, and she started a summer institute where the mentor principals taught the new principals whatever they wanted and needed to know. The members of her corps of principal-leaders were called the Distinguished Faculty, and principals were honored to be invited to join the Distinguished Faculty.

 

When Klein arrived, he had a deputy tell Mary he was disbanding her program, appropriating the $3 million federal grant her program had just won, and turning it over to his new Leadership Academy. He selected a businessman from Colorado with no experience in education to direct the Leadership Academy. My partner stayed on at the Leadership Academy for a year; she retired in 2003. It seemed that Klein wanted very few experienced educators in decision-making roles. He preferred young MBAs, businessmen, and management consultants to guide him. He did not respect teachers, principals, or others who had made a career in the school system.

 

Was his treatment of Mary responsible for my change of mind about “education reform”? He flatters himself. I remained on the boards of two conservative think tanks until 2009 (the Thomas B. Fordham Institute and the Koret Task Force at the Hoover Institution). But at the same time, what I observed in New York City affected my views: the heavy emphasis on testing as the measure of all things; the favoritism showed to charter operators; the explosion of no-bid contracts; the contempt expressed towards parents who wanted to save their schools or wanted class size reduction; the gaming of the system by opening small high schools that were allowed to exclude students with disabilities and English language learners, then boasting about their success; the closing of large high schools that Klein turned into dumping grounds for the students excluded from the small schools; the school report cards based mainly on test scores; the endless reorganizations of the entire system; the exodus of highly-respected principals.

 

Yes, Joel Klein did influence my views, but not because of what he did or did not do to my partner. That is his pettiness and vaingloriousness speaking. He made me realize over a period of years that the business model was wrong for education; that experienced educators had more wisdom than his cadre of management consultants, Sir Michael Barber, McKinsey, and 20-something graduates of business schools; that data-driven decision-making can drive the heart and spirit out of education; and that testing is not a tool for equity but a guarantor of inequity when used to rate schools and students and teachers.

 

I had very little contact with Klein while he was chancellor for eight years. I think we met twice. Our meetings were cordial. I never wrote anything personal or petty about him. He did not reciprocate. I don’t recall the precise year, but about 2005, an emissary from the DOE came to my home to warn me that if I did not stop writing critical articles, I would be “outed.” In 2007, I noticed on several occasions a young man from the DOE press office sitting in the audience and taping my lectures. I didn’t realize it at the time, but he was gathering material for a dossier called “Diane Ravitch, Then and Now,” which showed that my views had changed on issues like merit pay. According to a story by Elizabeth Green in the Néw York Sun, the DOE was unable to find a newspaper interested in writing about this revelation. Eventually, a piece appeared in the Néw York Post under the byline of the head of the Néw York City Business Partnership (our version of the Chamber of Commerce), accusing me of being an untrustworthy hypocrite. I promptly responded that I had indeed changed my views after seeing how poorly they worked in reality. By the fall of 2007, I no longer believed that NCLB would achieve its goals; that fall, I wrote an opinion piece in the New York Times called “Get Congress Out of the Classroom.”A month later, I attended a scholarly conference about NCLB in D.C. at the conservative American Enterprise Institute. It was my assignment to summarize a dozen reports from across the nation, all of which said that neither choice nor testing was making a difference. It was already evident to me that NCLB was a failure, and their reports confirmed my awakening. From conversations within those conservative think tanks, I knew that charters were no panacea, and many were failing schools. My change of mind was gradual, not sudden; it was evidence-based, not a fit of pique. Klein’s dictatorial and insensitive style had something to do with it, but not for the reasons he cites.

Katie Lapham teaches ESL classes in Brooklyn. What is really rotten in the schools, she writes, are the terrible tests that her first-graders must take. Their purpose is solely to evaluate the teachers. The tests were largely developmentally inappropriate. No teacher, she writes, would create such absurd tests.

She writes:

“Last month, it took me two and a half days to administer the 2014-2015 Grade 1 Math Inventory Baseline Performance Tasks to my students because the assessment had to be administered as individual interviews (NYCDOE words, not mine). The math inventory included 12 tasks, many of which were developmentally inappropriate. For example, in demonstrating their understanding of place value, first graders were asked to compare two 3-digit numbers using and =. Students were also asked to solve addition and subtraction word problems within 100.

“While I do not believe my students were emotionally scarred by this experience, they did lose two and a half days of instructional time and were tested on skills that they had not yet learned. It is no secret that NYC teachers and administrators view these MOSL tasks as a joke. Remember, they are for teacher rating purposes ONLY. “You want them to score low in the fall so that they’ll show growth in the spring,” is a common utterance in elementary school hallways. Also, there will be even more teaching-to-the-test as educators will want to ensure that their students are proficient in these skills before the administration of the spring assessment. Some of the first grade skills might be valid, but others are, arguably, not grade-level appropriate.

“The Grade 1 ELA (English-language Arts) Informational Reading and Writing Baseline Performance Task took less time to administer (four periods only) but was equally senseless, and the texts we were given had us shaking our heads because they resembled third grade reading material. In theory, not necessarily practice, students were required to engage in a non-fiction read aloud and then independently read an informational text on the same topic. Afterwards, they had to sort through a barrage of text-based facts in order to select information that correctly answered the questions. On day one, the students had to complete a graphic organizer and on day two they were asked to write a paragraph on the topic. Drawing pictures to convey their understanding of the topic was also included in the assessment.”

Lapham was surprised to learn that there is an alternative assessment that progressive schools use. She wonders why her school, in a poor neighborhood, was never informed about the option.

Be very careful about claims of schools that miraculously “turned around” in a matter of months or even in a couple of years. The usual formula is: fire everybody, hire a new staff, and the students become brilliant.

But then Gary Rubinstein investigates, and the miracle dissolves under his careful analysis.

Here is one. Gary writes that Joel Klein in his new book boasts of the amazing turnaround that happened when he shuttered Paul Robeson High School and opened P-Tech. Only a year and a half later, President Obama praised P-Tech in his State of the Union address.

But the high school scores were released a few days ago, P-Tech was one of the city’s lowest performing schools. Gary wrote, “This could be the most un-miraculous miracle school I’ve ever investigated.”

Another school in the news is Boys and Girls High School, also in Brooklyn. The media has been demanding that it be closed down because of low test scores. But its scores are much higher than those of the celebrated P-Tech!

Gary wonders whether reformers will start demanding that P-Tech be shut down.

In New York City, there is an effort to bring together teachers and principals in public schools to learn from high-performing charter schools. What are the secrets of their success?

 

Apparently the lessons from charter schools were taken to heart by the new principal of troubled Boys and Girls High School in Bedford-Stuyvesant in Brooklyn. He has asked low-performing students, students who don’t have enough credits, to transfer out. Is this one of the secrets of charter success that should be used by public schools? In the few weeks that the new principal has been in charge, 30 students have been pushed out. One was a boy who had literally turned his life around and was elected junior class president:

 

Calvin Brown, Jr. enrolled at Boys and Girls High School midway through his sophomore year after falling behind at a nearby charter school. Though the Bedford-Stuyvesant high school is considered one of the city’s worst, Brown thrived there.
He became the junior class president last year and the captain of the debate team, which is set to travel to South Africa next month for a competition. He had entered the school with just seven credits, but as he started his senior year this September he had three times that amount — still half as many as he needs to graduate, but he was catching up.

 

Then, after the school’s outspoken principal resigned last month, the city installed a new leader to turn around the troubled school. Under new principal Michael Wiltshire, students who are missing many credits or otherwise unlikely to graduate this year have been encouraged to transfer out, according to Brown and staffers at the school. Brown was one of the students urged to leave.
“They made me transfer,” said Brown, 17. “They don’t want me on the Boys and Girls roster.”

 

The principal must have realized that the secret to having a high-performing school is to get rid of the low-performing students. Is this equality of educational opportunity? Is this public education?

Hi Dr. Ravitch,

I’ve been glad to see a couple of blog posts in the past few days about CCSS and early childhood. I am the mother of a kindergartener, and have been on a slow simmer about this since my daughter started school in Sept. My daughter is four, she’ll turn five Thanksgiving weekend. She woke up crying in the middle of the night last night from a dream, worried about not being able to learn to read.

She is in our very well rated zoned NYC school (Queens). Her homework load is ridiculous! As I am a working single mom, she goes to an afterschool program. I had to put my foot down with them about the amount of time spent doing homework. Capping it at about a half an hour. The pressure about learning to read is not coming from me. I don’t believe there’s anything that can be done to change the curriculum soon enough to help my daughter, but I would love to hear from you and maybe your readers about how to deal with this as a parent of a young child.

Thanks so much,

Rose XX

Let me say at the outset that I am neither for nor against small schools. Sometimes they work well, because they have small classes and extra attention, sometimes they don’t, especially when they don’t provide classes for English language learners or advanced courses or foreign languages. As always, it depends.

Recently a report by a research organization called MRDC asserted that New York City’s Gates-funded small high schools were surprisingly successful.

But an underground researcher in the NYC Department of a education says, wait a minute. Review the evidence.

He/she writes:

 

How to Reform a Portfolio District

 

In what has become an annual propaganda exercise, MDRC (yes, their corporate name is just the initials), a “research foundation” in New York City, has self-published a non-peer reviewed paper on their website claiming that the new small high schools created under the Bloomberg administration are a success.[1] The New York Times followed up with an editorial claiming that “the Bloomberg approach has been vindicated” and that de Blasio should continue the same educational policies.[2]

 

Is there any truth to these claims? Does the data support any of this? The answer is “no.” The papers self-published by the MDRC are shoddily researched with clear biases and poor grounding in reality. It order to keep the size of this essay to a manageable length let’s limit ourselves to a Top 10 list of the paper’s flaws.

 

  1. The Gates Foundation provides the funding for these papers. The Gates Foundation also funded many of the new small high schools in New York City. What we have here is a circular process of self-congratulation. The peer-review process might be expected to uncover the biases produced by this unholy alliance.[3] But these papers have, of course, never been peer reviewed. They are self-published by MDRC on their website and then touted in press releases and newspaper editorials.
  2. It is becoming standard practice for researchers to publicly post data-sets used in such studies. MDRC has refused to release the data-set. This makes it impossible for their results to be independently verified or questioned.
  3. The papers claim that the new high schools “are open to any student who wants to attend.” This claim invents its own reality and ignores the existing literature that has shown how schools manage their admissions and enrollment processes so as to selectively screen out more challenging students. [4] It also ignores the facts on how the lottery process for these new high schools actually worked. In reality the new high schools used such tools as required attendance at information sessions, applications with essays, student biographical data, and listing mandated uniforms in the high school directory to screen out more challenging students prior to the lottery process as well as post the lottery process prior to enrollment. [5] A review of earlier papers in the MDRC series concluded that “carrying out the lotteries using the method described in the report may have resulted in nonrandom differences between the study groups.” [6] MDRC has never addressed these issues and continues to self-publish these papers on their website. It seems MDRC is more interested in continued funding than actually figuring out what really works for all students.
  4. The new small high schools have been found to engage in questionable academic practices and the manipulation of data at a higher rate than other high schools. For example, the new small high schools represent about 25% of all New York City high schools, yet in one year they made up 60% of the schools with patterns of data so suspicious that the Department of Education did not give them a grade. This should raise some serious concerns that MDRC does not address.
  5. For mysterious reasons MDRC excluded 33 small new secondary schools, a potential 30% increase in the number of schools examined in their self-published papers, even though 9th graders also apply to these schools through the high school admissions process. This may lead to significant bias in the results, especially since 6-12 schools are included in the comparison group.
  6. The new small high schools were closed at the same rate as existing schools, raising serious doubts about claims that the new small high schools as a whole were an improvement over existing schools.[7] This reality, of course, also biases the outcomes of the MDRC papers. Since the closed and closing new small high schools cease to accept 9th graders, their lower student outcomes would have a smaller impact on outcomes in these reports. The closed and closing new small high schools include, Manhattan Theatre Lab, Gateway School For Environmental Research and Technology, International Arts Business School, Global Enterprise High School, High School of Performance and Stagecraft (renamed Performance Conservatory), Urban Assembly Academy for History and Citizenship for Young Men, and the School for Community Research and Learning. Interestingly enough about 7% of the schools in the MDRC sample have closed, which is very close to the effect sizes MDRC claims the new small high school have produced.
  7. The MDRC papers only examine what they term “oversubscribed” new high schools. Only about 85% of the new small high schools meet this criteria. Meaning that 15% of new small high schools did not have enough applicants to fill their seats. Remember this is in context of students listing up to 12 high schools on their application. This means that the comparison groups are not equivalent. The outcomes of the presumably much weaker new small high schools are excluded. In order to make the comparison equivalent, the 15% of comparison schools with the weakest outcomes that the matched students attended should have been excluded as well. MDRC did not, of course, make this correction.
  8. Even with their biased methodology the MDRC papers have shown that the new small high schools have no significant impact on mathematics outcomes for students. Given the greater constraints in scoring on math exams, this difference suggests that any positive effects in the new small high schools are due to more relaxed grading policies rather than true increases in educational attainment. There is a lot more evidence suggesting the same thing, none of which MDRC addresses. For example, examination of credit accumulation in New York City schools has shown that while new high schools grant more credits, the credits do not correspond to a rigorous college ready curriculum.[8]
  9. When analyzing outcomes of specific student populations the MDRC papers lump students into very broad categories such as English Language Learner and Special Education Status. Given the data showing, for example, that the new small high school serve fewer of the neediest special education students, such comparisons are clearly biased in favor of the new small high schools.[9]
  10. MDRC does not acknowledge the special “favors” that were granted to Bloomberg’s new small schools. This includes receiving a higher percent of their Fair Student Funding formula than other schools [10], having more available facility space than other schools [11], and excluding special needs students [12] and English Language Learners in their early years [13]. Any comparisons made in such an inequitable policy environment are ridiculous.

 

The current popularity of the portfolio district approach can be attributed to the following factors:

 

  1. a) Superintendents of urban districts and other district officials with no background in education- with zero expertise in education they have no clue how to improve teaching and learning.
  2. b) A reluctance on the part of districts to take ownership and responsibility for the success of their schools- this leads to the strange but increasingly familiar scenario of districts trashing the public schools they are actually supposed to be supporting and improving while praising and granting special favors to charter schools (see Newark, New Jersey and Camden, New Jersey).
  3. c) The short time-frame of most superintendents and other district officials in each posting. With no long-term accountability they can play the portfolio game for a couple of years- closing schools, opening schools, closing even more schools- giving off the impression of activity and hard work. Though no real progress is made, by the time this becomes obvious, they have transitioned into other positions at reform think tanks and foundations. [14]

 

Mayor de Blaiso and Chancellor Farina, please do not continue the education policies of the previous administration as the New York Times demands. Thankfully, you have already made very clear that you do not intend to, as the data show that the portfolio district approach employed by the previous administration was a failure.[15]

 

Here is what you should do instead:

 

+ Develop rich, engaging curricula that support student learning and train teachers in implementing these curricula with fidelity while having the flexibility to customize the curricula to the needs of their students.

 

+Return to a geographic approach of school support and governance based on feeder patterns between elementary, middle and high schools. This will allow for articulation and alignment of supports as students progress from one grade band to the next.

 

+ Improve the metrics currently used to evaluate teachers and schools. The current metrics penalize schools that serve more challenging students and are open to manipulation. The initial revisions to the school Progress Reports are a good first step in what needs to be an iterative and ongoing process.

 

+ Focus on equity and fairness at every level of the organization. Enrollment practices must be reformed so that all students are educated by every single school. Tracking practices must be reformed so that every student receives a challenging academic program. Funding practices must be reformed so that schools are funded at levels appropriate to the students they serve.

 

This is how New York City will progress and truly serve every single student.

 

 

FOOTNOTES:

 

[1] http://www.mdrc.org/publication/headed-college/file-full

[2] http://www.nytimes.com/2014/10/18/opinion/small-schools-work-in-new-york.html

[3] Peer review is, of course, not the perfect solution for identifying bias in research. For example, the famous Chetty et al. study that was used to support value-added measures to evaluate teachers and played a role in the California tenure lawsuits now appears to have significantly exaggerated its claims. See Jesse Rothstein’s working paper at http://eml.berkeley.edu/~jrothst/workingpapers/rothstein_cfr_oct2014.pdf where he notes:

“Like all quasi-experiments, this one relies on an assumption that the treatment – here, teacher switching – is as good as random. I find that it is not: Teacher switching is correlated with changes in students’ prior-year scores. Exiting teachers tend to be replaced by teachers with higher measured VA when students’ prior achievement is increasing for other reasons, and by teachers with lower measured VA when student preparedness is declining. CFR have confirmed (in personal communication) that this result holds in their sample as well.

The evidence that the teacher switching “treatment” is not randomly assigned implies that CFR-I’s quasi-experimental analyses, which do not control for changes in student preparedness, cannot be interpreted causally…

It is not clear that the association between VA and long-run outcomes can be interpreted causally. The evidence of bias in VA scores means that the association between a teacher’s VA and students’ long-run outcomes may reflect the student sorting component of the VA score rather than the teacher’s true effect. Moreover, even if this issue is set aside there is still a concern that students assigned to high-VA teachers may be advantaged in ways that are predictive of the students’ long-run outcomes, implying that the estimated “effect” of being assigned to a teacher with high estimated VA is upward biased. In both CFR’s district and the North Carolina sample, teachers’ measured VA is correlated with students’ prior scores and other observables. Neither CFR-II’s observational estimates nor their quasi-experimental estimates of teachers’ long-run effects control fully for students’ observed, predetermined characteristics.”

[4] See Jennings, Jennifer L. (2010) School Choice or Schools’ Choice? Managing in an Era of Accountability. Sociology of Education 83: 227-247 “Although district policy did not allow principals to select students based on their performance, two of the three schools in this study circumvented these rules to recruit and retain a population that would meet local accountability targets.”

[5] http://eduwonkette2.blogspot.com/2007/10/when-lottery-is-not-lottery-ii-nyc.html

[6] http://ies.ed.gov/ncee/wwc/pdf/quick_reviews/nyc_sm_hs_013112.pdf

[7] http://www.edwize.org/meet-the-new-schools-same-as-the-old-schools

[8] http://www.edwize.org/new-schools-students-getting-passing-grades-yes-ready-for-college-not-so-much and http://www.edwize.org/bloombergs-new-schools-of-choice-prepare-fewer-kids-for-college

[9] http://www.nyccej.org/wp-content/uploads/2012/01/school-closures-report.pdf. See http://blogs.edweek.org/edweek/eduwonkette/2008/06/why_has_the_education_press_mi.html and http://eduwonkette2.blogspot.com/2007/10/turnaround-at-evander-childs-nyc-small.html for other significant demographic differences between older schools and the new small high schools.

[10] http://www.nydailynews.com/new-york/education/new-york-city-fair-student-fundng-reform-fair-exclusive-analysis-article-1.115115

[11] http://www.ibo.nyc.ny.us/iboreports/overcrowdingaugust2010.pdf

[12] http://www.nylpi.org/images/FE/chain234siteType8/site203/client/DLC%20-%20Education%20-%20High_School_Report.pdf

[13] http://www.thenyic.org/sites/default/files/report_3_ed_1.pdf

[14] See, for example, the cases of Joel Klein, former chancellor of the New York City Department of Education, who now works for the Murdochs and of Marc Sternberg, former deputy chancellor of the now shuttered Division of Portfolio Planning at the New York City Department of Education, who now works for the Waltons.

[15] http://dianeravitch.net/2013/12/20/tweed-insider-where-the-bloomberg-administration-went-wrong-on-education/

Earlier this year, Eva Moskowitz and the Wall Street hedge fund managers who support her NYC charter chain, Success Academy, thoroughly defeated Mayor Bill de Blasio. The mayor thought he could limit the expansion of her charters, even thought he could charge her rent for the use of public space, but her backers launched a $5 million negative advertising blitz against de Blasio.

Governor Cuomo, the recipient of nearly $1 million in campaign contributions from backers of Miskowitz’s charters, pledged his loyalty to her. The Néw York legislature quickly passed legislation guaranteeing her the right to expand, forbade the city from charging rent to charters, and required the city to pay the rent for private space for charter schools.

Here is the result, as reported in the Wall Street Journal and reposted by blogger Perdido Street.

“Lease documents show the city is paying almost $18,000 in rent for every student at the Success Academy that opened last month in Washington Heights, in the former Mother Cabrini High School.

“The Department of Education descriptions of the 10-year contracts, obtained through a Freedom of Information Law request, say the city will pay $39 a square foot in the coming three years for Success Academy Washington Heights and Success Academy Harlem Central; its analysis found a market range of $24 to $27 a square foot for comparable space. The rents will rise over time.”

“The rental fees come on top of $13,777 for every student that taxpayers provide to charters, which are publicly funded and independently operated.”

Says Perdido Street blogger:

“The city’s paying nearly $32,000 a student for Eva’s charters.

“That’s what Eva Moskowitz’s charter schools cost.”

Astonishing.

Gary Rubinstein, one of the best bloggers and thinkers about education in the nation, sends his daughter to the local public school in New York City. It is PS 163. The parents learned recently that a 20-story apartment building will be constructed within 50 feet of the school. The children will not be allowed in the playground during construction because of dust and toxins. The noise levels during school hours will be deafening.

The parents have complained but the Mayor and the Department of Education are unresponsive.

Gary asks for your help, especially if you live in New York City.

He writes:

“The parents have urged our local lawmakers to intervene and we are grateful to Mark Levine, Helen Rosenthal, and other city council people who are sponsoring bill number 420 which would require:

that noise shall not exceed 45 DB during normal school operating hours in any receiving classroom in any public or private preschool or primary or secondary school on lots that are within seventy-five feet from the construction site, and that noise levels at such schools sites shall be continuously monitored during normal school operating hours.

“With all the talk nowadays about putting students needs above ‘adult interests’ it is amazing that a common sense bill like this will require a lot of phone calls to the council people who have not yet agreed to support it. Parents from the school are currently making calls to the different council members, but the council members will be more likely to support this bill if they are getting calls from all over as this is something that will not just affect the kids in PS 163, but all the kids from all the other schools that may face a similar situation in the future.”

The parents have created a website.

Here is a list of City Council members and heir contact information.

This is a chance to put students first. Please help.

Mayor Bill de Blasio was elected as a progressive candidate. Much of his support came from critics of the Bloomberg-Klein regime and its hostility to teachers and even to public schools. The Bloomberg regime never stopped berating the system that it totally controlled for nearly a dozen years.

De Blasio selected veteran educator Carmen Farina as his chancellor, who promised to bring back “the joy of learning.” Unfortunately, the de Blasio administration has been slow to clean house. The Klein regime still controls large sectors of the education bureaucracy, including the infamous “gotcha” squad that is always on the alert for teacher misbehavior. True, the “gotcha” squad completely missed a high school teacher arrested for having sexual relations with several students at selective Brooklyn Technical High School, who is currently suspended with pay.

But the “gotcha” squad bagged a teacher who helped run a Kickstarter campaign for a student with cerebral palsy. This teacher was suspended without pay for 30 days for “theft of services,” having helped the campaign during school hours.

As Jim Dwyer, columnist for the New York Times reports:

“This is a story of an almost unfathomably mindless school bureaucracy at work: the crushing of an occupational therapist who had helped a young boy build a record of blazing success.

“The therapist, Deb Fisher, is now serving a suspension of 30 days without pay for official misconduct.

“Her crime?

“She raised money on Kickstarter for a program that she and the student, Aaron Philip, 13, created called This Ability Not Disability. An investigator with the Education Department’s Office of Special Investigations, Wei Liu, found that Ms. Fisher sent emails about the project during her workday at Public School 333, the Manhattan School for Children, and was thus guilty of “theft of services.”

“The school system has proved itself unable to dislodge failed or dangerous employees for years at a time.

“Ms. Fisher’s case seems to represent just the opposite: A person working to excel is being hammered by an investigative agency that began its hunt in search of cheating on tests and record-keeping irregularities. It found nothing of the sort. Instead, the investigation produced a misleading report, filled with holes, on the fund-raising effort.

“By omitting essential context, the report wrongly suggested that Ms. Fisher was a rogue employee, acting alone and in her own self-interest.

“In fact, the entire school, including the principal, was involved in the Kickstarter project, with regular email blasts counting down the fund-raising push. And the money was to be used not by Ms. Fisher, but by Aaron, who is writing a graphic book and making a short film about Tanda, a regular kid who is born with a pair of legs in a world where everybody else has a pair of wheels.

“Aaron has cerebral palsy and uses a wheelchair to navigate the world. Ms. Fisher has worked with him since kindergarten.”

Chancellor Farina, it is time to fire the “gotcha” squad. It is time to replace Joel Klein’s legal team. It is time to clean house and install officials who share Mayor de Blasio’s vision and values.

The charter school industry plans a half-million dollar TV campaign this week in New York City, capped by a big rally later in the week. By closing their schools, they can turn out tens of thousands of children and parents, especially if their charter school directs them to show for the rally and provides buses to transport them.

What if the public schools held a rally for the 1.1 million children they enroll? What if their parents or guardians showed up too?

Then the politicians could compare a rally with 60,000 children and a rally with 1.1 million children?

Too bad the public schools can’t or won’t order their students to attend a rally. The charters school leaders do and will, thus magnifying their numbers and inflating their importance.

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