Archives for category: NYC

While I was watching the television coverage of the tragedy in Newtown, Connecticut, an ad came on that was very upsetting. Sponsored by StudentsFirst ad, it was a typically deceptive TV ad depicting teachers and parents who demand that teachers be evaluated by test scores. It implies that teachers are slackers and need a swift kick to get to work. If they are evaluated, they claim, this will have a revolutionary effect on the schools.

Showing this anti-teacher ad at this moment in time was utterly tasteless. Just as we are watching stories about teachers and a principal and school psychologist who were gunned down protecting little children, we have to see this tawdry ad. Given the timing, it is political pornography.

The ad is meretricious. It does not mention that the city published the names and ratings of thousands of teachers a year ago, generating anger and controversy, not any wonderful transformation. The ratings a year ago were rife with error, but all that is now forgotten in the new push to get tough with teachers.

Who are those teachers and parents in the ad with no last names? Are they paid actors? If they believe what they say, why no last names? Why no school names?

Does StudentsFirst know that most of New York City’s charter schools have refused to submit to the teacher evaluation system? May we expect to see a TV attack ad demanding that charter schools adopt the same test-based evaluation system that Governor Cuomo and Mayor Bloomberg want? Or is it only for public schools?

Andrea Gabor wrote an excellent post providing the context for ad and the stand-off between the New York City United Federation of Teachers and the city (and state). She writes:

“Governor Cuomo has threatened to withhold funding if the city and the union cannot come to an agreement by January. And Mayor Bloomberg has said that he would rather lose the money than compromise on the evaluations.

“The StudentsFirst ad and the mayor’s tough talk highlight one of several problems with the teacher-evaluation debate. While employee evaluations work when they are part of a system-wide effort at continuous improvement, they are often counterproductive when used as a cudgel against employees.

The cheerful-sounding teachers in the StudentsFirst ad not withstanding, everything about the teacher-evaluation debate has been framed in punitive terms.”

Not only has the debate been framed in punitive terms, but as Gabor points out, VAM is rife with technical issues. As I have written repeatedly on this blog, VAM is so inaccurate and unstable that it is junk science. And as Bruce Baker has written again and again, teachers with the neediest students are likely to get worse ratings than those with “easier” students.

No wonder charter schools in New York City refuse to submit their teacher ratings.

The issue now is whether the governor and the mayor, with the help of StudentsFirst, can beat the union into agreeing to a process for evaluating teachers that is demonstrably harmful and demoralizing to its members, that does nothing to improve education, and that is guaranteed to waste many millions of dollars.

Frankly, StudentsFirst should have had the decency to stop their attacks on public school teachers until the public had gotten over the massacre at the Sandy Hook Elementary School. At long last, have they no decency?

*UPDATE: Micah Lasher of StudentsFirstNY informed that the organization asked the city’s television stations on Monday morning to pull the ad, in light of the tragedy. I saw it on CNN or MSNBC on Monday night. Someone goofed. I appreciate the clarification.

Gail Robinson writes about education in New York City. This post is about the fate of John Dewey High School in Brooklyn, about which I posted earlier.

In this article, published in June, she detailed the dreams and anticipated demise of John Dewey High School. Once it was seen as the cutting edge of progressive reform. Over time, the school became a dumping ground for students excluded from other schools, and city officials expected the school to die a quiet death. Dewey was one of 24 schools slated to close over the summer, but the execution was stayed by a judge.

But WAIT! I just received an email from an anonymous student who insists that John Dewey WILL NOT DIE.

He writes:

Hello Ms. Ravitch,

I am a student at John Dewey High School, as you may know, JDHS is one of the schools the NYCDOE abandoned and damaged by forcefully accepting unruly students that were rejected by Bloomberg’s smaller schools, and other unwanted academically deficient students. In 2007, John Dewey High School was named one of the Best High Schools in the United States by U.S. News & Report, even though the NYCDOE stripped funds that year. How coincidental that a year later, after Dewey forcefully accepts 400 academically deficient and unruly students causing discipline problems and overcrowding, there’s a gun scare. Then Dewey was placed on high alert, receives a C on the annual progress report, with graduation and safety rates plummeting. Obviously, this was all part of the NYCDOE and Bloomberg’s plan to destroy one of the ex-best high schools in the city. They tried, Ms. Ravitch. And just when they thought that they succeeded once again [since 2002] in destroying another school, Dewey gets back up on its feet and shows the DOE and Bloomberg how damn wrong they were. So very wrong.

Yes, I was that same student under the name “Rupert” that previously commented on your blog. Since the 2011-2012 high school progress reports have been released recently, I tell you with great satisfaction and joy that John Dewey High School’s graduation rate increased from 65.9% in 2011 to 72.4% in 2012! The college readiness rate also increased from 29.7% in 2011 to 35% in 2012! And last but not least, this school that the DOE considers “failing” received a high B for the 2011-2012 progress report, up from the C on the 2010-2011 progress report. Can you believe it? The NYCDOE neglects and bullies Dewey, it also strapped a lot of money from the school eliminating facilities and teachers (about $3 million) and yet the school improves!

Long story short, I go in depth on this issue like the little high school journalist I am. I have a blog titled “The Chronicles of a Dewey Student” in which I make monthly posts about education, like you do, Ms. Ravitch. Except mines are related to Dewey more per se, you can access my blog by clicking here.

I know that you may have a busy schedule, but please, please… Whenever you have time, please read this article I published on my blog The Road to Recovery: A B for John Dewey High School in which I visually but thoroughly speak about Dewey’s progress in depth in just ONE year! Please, please, whenever you have the time, it would mean so much to me and the Dewey community if you read it. Here’s the link to the article:

http://studentatjdhs.blogspot.com/2012/12/the-road-to-recovery-b-for-john-dewey.html

I use images and make comparisons from the 2010-2011 school year to the 2011-2012 school year, and the changes are so noticeable. It is jaw dropping how much progress a so-called “failing” school can make in just one year. Would you consider a 72% grad rate and 35% college readiness rate (above the city average), along with a high B on the progress report, failing?

I just hope you that when you finish reading my article, that you’ll share it on your blog, or even with colleagues, and even other blogs! Because this is something people throughout the nation must see! So they can see how ugly public education and bureaucracy in NYC can be. The worst part is that the NYCDOE is still ripping away funds from the school and expects more progress. I just hope my article gets the publicity it needs, in order for people to see and realize that John Dewey High School is NOT a failing school, nor has it ever been. It was just a failed attempt by the DOE to crush a beautiful school, well they didn’t win this time!

The teachers of John Dewey High School, and my experience attending this lovely special public school has molded me into a well rounded intellectual, and I plan on becoming a high school teacher. Most certainly, I plan to return to Dewey one day and teach here for the rest of my life. Something I never would have wanted to do, had I not attended Dewey. I love this school so much, and I hope you feel the same way.

Thank you for your time, and I sincerely hope that you had the time to read my article. Take care, and have a nice day. :)

Yours truly,
Random Dewey Student

Bruce Baker of Rutgers joins the honor roll, not as a champion of public education, but as a champion of honesty, accuracy and integrity.

Scholars must go where the evidence takes them, not where it is popular or politically expedient,

Today, Baker is outraged that the Néw York state education department continues to press for adoption of its flawed evaluation system.

He is outraged that the creators of the system–AIR–recognized its flaws, yet blessed it anyway.

He is outraged that the state and city of Néw York will force these flawed metrics on educators.

For his devotion to the best ideals of scholarship and his fearless championing of them, Bruce Baker joins the honor roll.

Mayor Michael Bloomberg has decided that rating teachers by their test scores and publishing their names in the paper is the last hill he will stand on in his struggle to establish a legacy. He says it is time to hold teachers’ feet to the fire. He would rather cut the budget than let teachers “off the hook” on teacher evaluations.

The mayor is a busy man. We can’t expect him to know anything about education research. He is making his judgments based on his gut instincts. It’s a shame that no one at the New York City Department of Education will tell him that what he believes in doesn’t work. The teachers of English language learners, special education students and gifted students are likely to look like bad teachers. I’m guessing no one at Tweed has the nerve to speak up. They are all in awe of him.

As his third term dwindles down to its closing days, the public has lost confidence that he can reform the schools. In the latest poll, only 25% approved his stewardship of the schools.

I wish he would call me. I could help him.

A high school for at-risk students in Manhattan, now located in a beautiful state-of-the-art facility, will be relocated to make room for Eva Moskowitz’s charter empire to grow.

The students at Innovation Diploma Plus high school will be relocated to a 90-year-old school with no science labs or gym.

Success Academy recently raised its management fee to $2,000 per student. It has a wealthy and powerful board of directors. The city gives the charter chain free space in public school buildings wherever it wants, despite community protests. Success academy (formerly known as Harlem Success Academy) has recently expanded into middle-class and gentrifying neighborhoods, like affluent District 2 in Manhattan , Cobble Hill and Williamsburg in Brooklyn, and the Upper West Side of Manhattan.

The Bloomberg administration continues its path of closing schools rather than helping them.

Read more here on the New York City parent blog.

Only 13 years ago, DeWitt Clinton High School was rated one of the best in the nation. It was once an honored school, home to great teachers and students.

But now, going into the 11th year of mayoral control, it is overcrowded and on the chopping block.

The Bloomberg administration’s Department of Education demonstrates yet again that it has no idea how to improve schools. It just demolishes them.

In time, the small schools that replace DeWitt Clinton will also close.

And then?

One regular reader gets very annoyed when he sees the local media telling fibs.

He is a truth squad all by himself.

One of the favorite fibs is that charters get better results with exactly the same kinds of students.

That is what the NY Daily News wrote today.

Here is what constant reader wrote in response:

It has finally happened! Education reformers have reached the heights of absurdity in their defense of charter schools. Discussing changes in two New York City school districts, an editorial in today’s New York Daily News attacks non-charter schools claiming that “schools in the districts have defied reform, thanks in large part to an entrenched system — solidified by the teachers contract — that denies principals the power that charter leaders have to demand excellence from their instructors” and that the charter schools in those districts succeed while
“serving the same cohort of neighborhood children.”

Of course this is an empirical claim that can be checked. So I checked it, using the publicly available information on the Department of Education’s website http://schools.nyc.gov/NR/rdonlyres/A8A10B87-7BB2-4BBA-97BE-12753D7DE3E6/0/2011_2012_EMS_PR_Results_2012_10_04.xlsx.

Do the charter schools in these two districts serve “the same cohort of neighborhood children?”

They do not!

The charter schools in the districts serve fewer special education students (especially those with the highest needs), fewer English Language Learners, fewer poor students, fewer students with incoming scores that are in the lowest third citywide for both English and Math, and accept students with higher incoming test scores.

Why does the Daily News feel comfortable telling such a lie? It seems that the media is so caught up in the education reform story that they are willing to bend the truth to support the narrative that public schools are bad and charters are good.

But what is the truth? These numbers suggest that the charter schools are not doing a better job than non-charter public schools with the same students. They don’t educate students who most need the help and support of top-notch teachers. As long as education reformers are willing to spread such lies we will never be able to give all students the excellent education they deserve.

Let’s let the true numbers tell the story:

District 7 non-charter public schools
Special education students: 27.7%
Highest need special education students: 11.9%
Economic need index: .93
English Language Learners: 21.5%
Incoming student Math/English scores: 2.83
Incoming students who scored in the lowest third citywide in English: 52.4%
Incoming students who score in the lowest third citywide in Math: 53.6%

District 7 charter schools
Special education students: 12%
Highest need special education students: 2.3%
Economic need index: .78
English Language Learners: 12.6%
Incoming student Math/English scores: 3.08
Incoming students who scored in the lowest third citywide in English: 34.7%
Incoming students who score in the lowest third citywide in Math: 31.5%

District 23 non-charter public schools
Special education students: 18.8%
Highest need special education students: 11.9 %
Economic need index: .86
English Language Learners 4.8%:
Incoming student Math/English scores: 2.92
Incoming students who scored in the lowest third citywide in English: 43.7%
Incoming students who score in the lowest third citywide in Math: 51.8%

District 23 charter schools
Special education students: 14.1%
Highest need special education students: 7.0%
Economic need index: .65
English Language Learners: 2.4%
Incoming student Math/English scores 3.18:
Incoming students who scored in the lowest third citywide in English: 26.9%
Incoming students who score in the lowest third citywide in Math: 20.6%

dianerav | December 3, 2012 at 10:54 pm | Categories: Charter Schools, NYC | URL: http://wp.me/p2odLa-3ce

In the just concluded trial about vouchers in Louisiana, a state education department official said that a student with a voucher is a public school student, no matter what school she attends. The judge could not follow the logic. He ruled that the state could not take funds away from public schools to pay for vouchers.

Leonie Haimson of Class Size Matters in New York City noticed that charter advocates pull the same trick, with the same logic. They change their rationale to fit the need of the moment.

At first, the charters were to save minority kids from failing schools. But now they are moving into relatively affluent areas in New York City where schools are not failing.

She writes, referring to the gentrified portions of districts 2, 3 and 15:

“The reason DOE is putting charter elementary schools in high schools in D2, the lower part of D3 and in the Cobble Hill section of D15 is that their public elementary schools are already so overcrowded so that there is NO space for them, even by DOE standards.”

“The charter school lobby first explained the rationale for their schools as based on providing more “options” to students in low-performing districts, then moved on to justifying them by saying they would create more “diverse” schools in mixed or gentrifying areas, and also now argue that they create more options for middle class parents who are potentially shut out of their zoned schools because of overcrowding, that there are waiting lists for Kindergarten.”

“The rationales keep expanding….”

Gary Rubinstein has produced a stunning analysis of New York City’s high school report cards, its so-called progress reports.

He asks: “Why does the ‘worst’ NYC high school have higher SAT scores than the ‘best’ one?”

This is what Gary found: the SAT scores of the city’s highest-rated high school are lower than those of its lowest-rated school.

Read that again.

Maybe you don’t think much of SAT scores. But then look at those report cards again, and you will see some very unimpressive high schools–by any measure–ranked far above the city’s top high schools.

What a fraud these report cards are.

If you believe, as I do, that standardized testing is now being misused and overused, you will be shocked to read about New York City’s latest plan to ration admission to programs for gifted 4-year-olds.

If you wanted to satirize the misuse of testing, you would come up with a plan like the one in NYC. Little children will take a test, be rank ordered, and only those who score 90% or higher are sure to win a coveted seat. Sorry, an 89% won’t make it.

When you read the editorial linked here, you may momentarily wonder if you stepped through the looking glass and into the bizarro world of testing gone mad..

Anxious parents are paying for test prep and tutoring for 3-year-olds to get ready for the big test. Children who should be playing and romping in the park are under pressure to get the right answer.

The New York Daily News usually lauds everything that comes out of the NYC DOE because of its fealty to Mayor Bloomberg, but this latest plan was too far-fetched even for the mayor’s most fervent advocates:

The News wrote:

“Preposterously, this method tries to make a superexact measurement out of completely nonscientific evaluation. Worse, consider this example:
“Sally and Billy are both 4, but Sally is one day older than Billy. They take the test on the same day. “Both get 28 questions right out of 30. Both wind up in the 99th percentile.
“But, because he is ever so slightly younger than Sally, Billy is viewed as more advanced. He gets a higher composite than Sally, and he beats her out.”

Follow

Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.

Join 118,390 other followers