Archives for category: New York City

It was a curious fact that when billionaire Michael Bloomberg was mayor of New York City for 12 years, he had complete control of the public schools yet did not have any fresh ideas about how to improve them.

This should not be surprising, because he was never an educator. He hired another non-educator–Joel Klein–to be his chancellor. The two of them relied heavily on McKinsey and other consultants to guide them. They hired lots of MBAs to staff top  positions. They hoped to adopt a corporate style of organization, which made sense because they had low regard for actual educators.

He adopted every aspect of No Child Left Behind: high-stakes testing, closing schools, firing teachers and principals. He loved opening small schools, and when they failed, he reopened them with a new name so they could start over.

New York City was a faithful replication of NCLB, with punishments and rewards leading the way.

His main idea was to hand schools over to private charter operators, assuming that they would have better ideas about how to run schools than he did.

Some of the charter operators made a point of excluding low-performing students, which artificially boosted their test scores.

Some closed their enrollments in the fourth grade, so they would not have to take in new students after that point.

Some kicked out kids who were in need of special services.

Bloomberg’s favorite charter chain was Eva Moskowitz’s Success Academy, which used all of these tricks to get astonishingly high test scores.

Bloomberg was obsessed with data and test scores. He even adopted Jeb Bush’s policy of letter grades for schools (which his successor Bill DeBlasio abolished).

The New York City charter industry practiced all the tricks of raising test scores by manipulating the student population.

In addition, the charter sector mastered the ability to organize mass rallies, flooding legislative halls with students and parents, pleading for more funding for new charters (which they could not attend since they were already enrolled in charters).

So pleased was Bloomberg with his charter policy that it is now the centerpiece of his national education agenda.

He doesn’t care about the nearly 90% of kids who are enrolled in public schools.

He believes in privatization.

If elected, he could retain Betsy DeVos as his Secretary of Education and maintain continuity with Trump’s education agenda.

Liat Olenick was a charter school teacher. Fatima Geidi was a parent of a charter student.

They write in a joint article that proposals by Bernie Sanders and Elizabeth Warren should not be controversial. Charter advocates have reacted fiercely against any effort to regulate the privately-run schools. But, say the authors, charters will improve if they are both accountable and transparent, as Sanders and Warren propose.

They write:

 

As a former charter school parent and a former charter school teacher, we support these proposals – and we believe, that if implemented both at the federal level and with a similar approach at the state level, this agenda would actually improve charter schools while also limiting some of the harm they have done to district public schools.

First, a little about our experiences, which are, sadly, far from unique. 

I, Liat, spent my first year teaching at a Brooklyn charter school that was started by non-educators and suffered from extreme turnover in administrators and staff. We had six principals over the course of the first year, and ten teachers either quit or were fired. We also lost special education students because our school wouldn’t or couldn’t provide the services they needed. Instead, they were sent to nearby public schools. Now that I work in a public school in District 14, we experience the reverse process — my school has no choice but to accept the many students pushed out by charter schools when they don’t conform to their rigid academic or behavioral expectations.

I, Fatima, am a single mother whose son was suspended over 30 times by his charter school, Upper West Success Academy, starting in first grade, including for very minor issues, such as walking up the stairs too slowly. He was also denied his mandated special education services, which worsened the situation. The school demanded that I pick him up so frequently in the middle of the day that I was forced to drop out of college myself. When I finally pulled him out of the school, his therapist told me he suffered from symptoms of post-traumatic stress. 

Then when my son and I were subsequently interviewed on the PBS Newshour about how he had been treated at the school, Success Academy officials at the network sent copies of his disciplinary files, full of trumped-up charges, to every education reporter they could find and posted it online. Eva Moskowitz, the Success Academy CEO, also recounted false stories about his behaviorin her published memoirs. 

Although the US Department of Education eventually found her and the school guilty of violating the federal student privacy law called FERPA more than three years after I filed my initial complaint, Success officials have refused to comply with the law and continue to retaliate in the same way against other parents who dare to speak out against the unfair treatment of their children by releasing their confidential files to reporters. Meanwhile, the New York State Education Department has confirmed that Success Academy has systematically failed to provide students with their mandated special education services, even after having been ordered to do so by hearing officers.

Since my son left Success Academy, he is slowly recovering, and is now doing better in high school, but it took him years to undo the damage he experienced. I have met many other parents whose children suffered similar or worse fates. Success Academy charters are currently facing five different federal education lawsuits for violating student rights, and yet are the fastest growing charter chain in the state of New York, having received more than $60 million in grants from the federal government since 2006 to aid in their expansion and replication.

New York City investigators began examining the city’s yeshivas in 2015 in response to complaints from graduates of the Yeshivas that they had not received an education that met state requirements. It is 2019 and there is still no report. Leonie Haimson writes about the growing suspicion that the de Blasio administration sat on the investigation in order to win key votes from Orthodox Jews and their allies in the Legislature on the renewal of mayoral control.

The report was finally released on December 19, four years after it was initiated.

Only two of the 28 ultra-orthodox yeshivas visited by the city Education Department over the past three years are providing an education that meets state legal standards, according to a long-awaited report released Thursday.

Schools examined by the city ran the gamut from teaching a full range of subjects in English, to offering no math or English courses, and providing students with no access to textbooks written in English. Of almost 140 elementary and middle school classes officials attended, about a third were taught exclusively in Yiddish, with the remainder taught in a mix of English and Yiddish.

The DOE classified 8 of the 28 schools as well on their way to meeting the state standard of providing an education “substantially equivalent” to the one offered in public schools. Another 12 met parts of the criteria, and five schools had almost no overlap with the requirements.

Naftuli Moster, the executive director of YAFFED, a group dedicated to reforming ultra-orthodox yeshiva education, said the report “reaffirms what we already know: That tens of thousands of children in New York City, including those in nearly 40 Yeshivas the city investigated and those which the city failed to monitor for decades, are being denied a basic education as required by law.”

Here is another report, this one in The Forward, a Jewish-oriented newspaper. 

The mixture of religion and the state is always volatile.

The Yeshiva graduates who demanded the investigation said they had not learned secular subjects, they had learned most of the curriculum in Hebrew, and they were ill-equipped to function in contemporary society.

Why did it take four years to investigate 28 schools?

The NYC publication Gothamist reported:

Probe Finds De Blasio Administration Stalled Report on Academic Standards at Yeshivas

The de Blasio administration engaged in political maneuvering to stall the release of a report on education standards in Hasidic yeshivas, according to city investigators. A joint report from the Department of Investigations and the Special Commissioner of Investigation for city schools released Wednesday found representatives of the mayor and state legislators took part in “political horse trading” in 2017 as part of a ploy to delay an interim Department of Education report on whether the yeshivas were proving education on par with the city’s public schools.

The effort was part of a plan to secure support for extending mayoral control for city schools, investigators found, which was approved by the legislature in 2017. But investigators determined the agreement “had no substantial effect on the inquiry’s conclusion or the progress of the inquiry,” which was delayed by several other factors, according to a statement from the Department of Investigations, including a generally accommodative stance by the DOE to the yeshivas it was attempting to investigate.

Investigators did not determine whether the mayor personally approved the delay of the DOE report, but the statement noted, “the totality of evidence did indicate the Mayor was aware that the offer to delay had been made.” The report concluded that no laws were violated. The final report from the DOE has still not been released, though de Blasio administration officials indicated it would be coming soon, years after it was promised.

In a statement following the revelations Wednesday, Naftuli Moster, executive director of YAFFED, an educational advocacy group operating in Orthodox Jewish communities, said, “What a disgrace. The DOI/SCI investigation shows the City is willing to trade away the education of tens of thousands of students for power and political influence. These findings also raise concerns as to whether the City will provide an accurate assessment of what is happening inside Yeshiva schools when it finally releases its report.”
*****

Haimson writes:

It is hard to know which is more toxic – the system of autocratic mayoral control which I and others critiqued at Assembly hearings this week;  or the damaging political deals the Mayor has made to keep it – which include not just a delay in issuing a report on the Yeshivas in 2017,  but also that same year, his agreement to an increase in the number of NYC charter schools. 

Before that, as part of the deal to extend mayoral control in 2014 , de Blasio agreed to either co-locate charter schools in public school buildings or help pay for rent in private buildings – a legal obligation which no other district in the state or the nation has been saddled with, and that the DOE is now spending more than $100M per year on.

A question which the DOE/SCI statement does not answer is why the DOE inquiry into the Yeshivas was still in its early stages in June 2017 – given that the initial complaint was made in the July 2015.  See Yaffed’s timeline here.

Another question is what is now holding up the release of the DOE’s final report, given that that the DOE visits to Yeshivas concluded last spring and that  “Although the DOE has now visited all 28 yeshivas [originally named in the complaint that are still open], more than four years after the initial complaints, the DOE’s Inquirycontinues.”

If the visits ended last spring, why does the DOE Inquiry continue and why has no report has yet been issued?  No explanation is provided.

All this makes one suspect that the political influence of the ultra-Orthodox community with the Mayor and City Hall continues to hamper DOE’s actions and reporting on this issue.

If the United States Supreme Court rules against state prohibitions on vouchers for religious schools in the coming term, the public will fund many such schools, including those governed by all religious groups that will step forward to claim their share of the public purse.

If the Supreme Court decides that the state must pay for religious schools, will the state also have the power to regulate those schools and require that they teach subjects in English and meet the same academic standards as other publicly-funded schools?

Attached are four statements that were delivered (in person or by email in my case) to the New York State Assembly Education Committee Hearing on Mayoral Control. The hearings won’t result in immediate action since mayoral control was recently renewed for three years.

It is hard to believe but there was a time, about a decade ago, when corporate reformers believed that mayoral control would lead to a dramatic transformation of schools. The problem, they believed, was democracy. When people have a chance to elect a board, the “reformers” said, they make bad choices, the unions have too much power, and the result is stasis. Chicago has had mayoral control since 1995, and the newly elected Mayor Lori Lightfoot has agreed that the city should have an elected board. Here is a list of mayoral-controlled school systems.

In New York City, Michael Bloomberg asked the Legislature to give him complete and unfettered control of the New York City public schools in 2002, soon after his election in 2001. He received it, and he promised sweeping changes. He closed scores of large schools and broke them up into four or five or six schools in the same building (escalating the cost of administration). Parents, students, and teachers objected passionately, but the mayor’s “Panel on Education Policy” ignored them. Bloomberg favored charter schools over the public schools he controlled, and their number multiplied. He tightly centralized the operations of the system and appointed a lawyer with no education experience (Joel Klein) to be his chancellor. Bloomberg was all about test scores and data and privatization.

When Bill de Blasio was elected in 2013, he embraced mayoral control.

What follows are three views, all concluding that mayoral control as presently designed should end.

And here is a fourth view, a dissent from the other three, by veteran education watcher Peter Goodman, who wonders whether an elected school board would be controlled by parents or captured by a billionaire, or by charter advocates (the latter two have far more money to spend than parents).

 

To see Kemala Karmen’s footnotes and the other two views (including mine), open the PDF files attached.

TESTIMONY submitted by KEMALA KARMEN on 12/16/2019 

For NYS ASSEMBLY EDUCATION COMMITTEE HEARING ON MAYORAL CONTROL

My older child, who just returned home from her first semester of college, was five years old when I attended my first city council hearing. Michael Bloomberg was mayor and Joel Klein was his chancellor, and a fellow kindergarten parent had encouraged me to attend the hearing. I no longer remember the precise topic of the hearing. What I do remember is that council member after council member spoke passionately and convincingly against some DOE policy, and yet, when all was said and done, and the mayor’s “accountability czar” had spoken, it was clear that the chancellor would do exactly what he had wanted to do all along, undeterred by the opposition of a room full of people who had been directly elected by their constituents. 

I was floored.

I am a relatively privileged person in terms of my class and education, and while my color, gender, cultural, and religious background have marked me as “other” for most of my life, I had never felt as disenfranchised as I did at that moment, when I realized that when it came to my children’s public school education, I had NO voice, and neither did anyone I could vote for, apart from the mayor, whom one must vote for based on an array of issues in addition to education.

In fact, even if you were a single-issue voter, investing all of your hopes in a candidate based on that candidate’s professed positions on education, you could still find yourself unrepresented. Take our current mayor.  At an education forum held in 2013, at the time of his initial run, Candidate de Blasio said, among other things, that he opposed high-stakes standardized testing and its stranglehold on our schools. As mayor, he would stand with parents like me who called for more teaching and less testing. 

In reality, our now second-term mayor, presides over a Department of Education that has recently instituted even more tests for our city’s public school children. Facing mounting evidence that a generation of test-based “reform” has not improved the academic standing of America’s students, other municipalities, including Boston, are starting to cut back on the number and frequency of tests they impose on students. Here, however, mayoral control lets the mayor and his representatives do whatever they want, even if it flies in the face of evidence or reason. The city council can ask questions about NYCDOE policies, but they are powerless to actually do anything other than ask questions, collect data, and maybe bring to light what otherwise might be happening without public awareness, never mind input. 

As a parent stakeholder in the schools, I find mayoral control, as currently practiced, and as outlined above, profoundly undemocratic. At this particular moment in our country’s history, that is especially demoralizing. Moreover, it makes a mockery of the supposed progressivism of our city. Here again, I can use high-stakes testing to illustrate that point, this time referring to the annual state testing of 3rd-8th graders. Rates of state test refusal or “opt out” are in the double digits or even high double digits in most of the rest of the state, but in NYC, although opt out rates have doubled over the last few years, they still remain in the low single digits. Why is that? Do parents in NYC just love standardized testing more than their counterparts elsewhere? Or could it be that everywhere else in the state elected school boards are responsive to the parents who elect them, so when parents make it clear to their boards that they reject a test-centric focus their boards actually listen, and do things like send home form letters where a parent can check a box that says, “Yes, my child will take the state test” or “No, my child will not take the test?” In NYC, by contrast, many parents don’t even know they have a right to refuse and those of us grassroots-organizing against the tests must contend with directives from the DOE that tell would-be test refusers that they need to meet with their principals if they want to opt out. This is little more than intimidation and it works; parents are reluctant to go against the authority figure who controls their child’s day-to-day environment. The City Council tried to counter this in 2015 by unanimously passing a resolution that called on the NYCDOE to inform parents of their opt out rights. Again, because of mayoral control, the NYCDOE can, and did, ignore the wishes of every single council member elected by the people of NYC, from the Bronx to Staten Island. To this day, almost 5 years later, the NYCDOE has failed to implement the resolution.

I’ve focused on the suppression of parent voice under mayoral control, but there are so many more problems I could list. For example, as a tax-paying citizen, I believe the system of mayoral control leads to a lack of transparency in financial matters, which could mean that my tax dollars are being spent unwisely or even fraudulently. I serve on the steering committee of New York State Allies for Public Education, and when I mentioned the new NYCDOE tests in an email to my fellow committee members, some of whom are elected school board members or trustees in their districts elsewhere in the state, the very first reply I received was, “How will they pay for that?” Indeed, how will they? Or even how much will it cost to administer computer-based tests multiple times a year to tens of thousands of students–or perhaps hundreds of thousands? What other things is NYCDOE forfeiting for our children that could have been paid for with that money? And why does no one know the answers to any of these questions?

We have no avenue for objecting if the mayor decides to appoint a chancellor who has never worked a day of their lives in a school, or that chancellor appoints a superintendent who has never been a principal. We have no protection from a mayor who might go so far as to hand over our schools to the opaque private management of the charter sector. 

I am a parent, not an expert in governance, and I realize that school boards aren’t perfect. All over the country, we are seeing money from outside a district swoop in, essentially buying seats, often to advance a school privatization agenda. That’s twisted, and if we did go back to an elected  school board, we’d have to be attentive to things like that, perhaps strictly regulating campaign contributions. 

I can’t wrap this up with a neat solution as to what the best course of action forward is. Nonetheless, I do know that the mayoral control that we have now is fundamentally flawed, and should not continue in its present form if we value democracy.

 

For Leonie’s statement click here.

For Kemala’s statement click here.

For my statement click here.

 

Jan Resseger writes here about the damage that “portfolio districts” do to students, schools, and communities. The original concept for “portfolio districts” was developed by Paul Hill of the Gates-funded Center for Reinventing Public Educatuon at the University of Washington. The fundamental idea was that the school board would act like a stock portfolio manager, closing low-performing schools, replacing them with charter schools, keeping open the schools with high test scores. Students would choose where to go to school. The concept was adopted by many districts as the latest thing, and many beloved neighborhood schools serving black and brown communities were shuttered. If their replacement got low scores, it was also closed. The students were collateral damage.

She writes:

Mayor Michael Bloomberg and Joel Klein launched this scheme in New York City by creating district-wide school choice, breaking up large comprehensive high schools into small schools with curricular specialties, encouraging the opening of a large number of charter schools, co-locating many schools—small specialty public schools along with charter schools—into the same buildings.  Those running the school district would consider all of these schools of choice as if they were investments in a stock portfolio. The district would hold on to the successful investments and phase out those whose test scores were low or which families didn’t choose.

Portfolio school reform has created collateral damage across the school districts which have experimented with the idea. After the Chicago Public Schools, another district managed by portfolio school reform theory, closed 50 schools at the end of the 2013 school year, the University of Chicago’s Consortium on School Research, and separately a University of Chicago sociologist, Eve Ewing tracked widespread community grieving when neighborhoods lost the public school institutions that had anchored their neighborhoods.

But there have been other kinds of collateral damage beyond the tragedy of school closures. In a new piece for the NY Times, Eliza Shapiro documents how district-wide school choice in New York City has contributed to inequity along with racial and segregation.

One problem is inequitable access to information. Parents who can afford to pay for consultants and who have the skills and position to understand how to navigate the system are able to privilege their own children with access to the schools widely thought to be desirable.  Shapiro explains: “There is a trick to getting to the front of the lines that clog sidewalks outside New York City’s top public high schools each fall. Parents who pay $200 for a newsletter compiled by a local admissions consultant know that they should arrive hours ahead of the scheduled start time for school tours. On a recent Tuesday, there were about a hundred mostly white parents queued up at 2:30 p.m. in the spitting rain outside of Beacon High School, some toting snacks and even a few folding chairs for the long wait. The doors of the highly selective, extremely popular school would not open for another two hours for the tour. Parents and students who arrived at the actual start time were in for a surprise. The line of several thousand people had wrapped around itself, stretching for three midtown Manhattan blocks.”

Resseger adds:

My own children graduated from a racially and economically diverse public high school in Cleveland Heights, Ohio.  Articles like Shapiro’s cause me to appreciate our family’s privilege in a way I had never really previously considered.  From the time they entered Kindergarten, our children knew they would someday go to the big high school at the corner of Cedar and Lee.  At a week-long summer music camp in our school district, middle school students play side-by-side with some of the members of the high school band and orchestra. Our daughter learned to know the high school tennis coach when he worked with younger students in the city recreation program. And the summer before his high school freshman year, our son, knowing that the high school cross country team worked out in a city park during August, went to the park and asked the coach if he could start working out with the team. High school for our children was a natural, predictable, and exciting transition. How lucky we were.

 

When Jan Resseger writes, she does so with authority and clarity.

In this essay, she explains why she will not vote for Michael Bloomberg, based on his record of disrespecting educators in New York City when he was mayor. Bloomberg as mayor employed all the same principles as No Child Left Behind: testing, accountability, school closings, charter schools, school choice, all based on “the business model.”

She writes:

Michael Bloomberg does have a long education record. Bloomberg served as New York City’s mayor from January of 2002 until December of 2013. In 2002, to accommodate his education agenda, Bloomberg got the state legislature to create mayoral governance of NYC’s public schools. In this role, Michael Bloomberg and his appointed schools chancellor, Joel Klein were among the fathers of what has become a national wave of corporate, accountability-based school reform. Bloomberg is a businessman, and Joel Klein was a very successful attorney. Neither had any experience as an educator. They took aggressive steps to run the NYC school district, with 1.1 million students, like a business. Their innovations included district-wide school choice, rapid expansion of charter schools, co-location of a bunch of small charter and traditional schools into what used to be comprehensive high schools, the phase out and closure of low-scoring schools, evaluation of schools by high stakes standardized test scores, the assignment of letter grades to schools based on their test scores, and a sort of merit pay bonus plan for teachers.

In her 2018 book, After the Education Wars, Andrea Gabor, the New York business journalist and journalism professor, comments on Bloomberg’s educational experiment: “The Bloomberg administration embraced the full panoply of education-reform remedies. It worshiped at the altar of standardized tests and all manner of quantitative analysis. The Bloomberg administration also had a penchant for reorganizations that seemed to create more disruption than continuous improvement among its 1.1 million students and 1,800 schools.” ( After the Education Wars, p. 75)

Gabor describes Bloomberg’s expansion of charter schools: “Harlem, in particular, has become the center of an unintentional educational experiment—one that has been replicated in neighborhoods and cities around the country.  During the Bloomberg years, when close to a quarter of students in the area were enrolled in charter schools, segregation increased, as did sizable across-the-board demographic disparities among the students who attended each type of school. An analysis of Bloomberg-era education department data revealed that public open-enrollment elementary and middle schools have double—and several have triple—the proportion of special needs kids of nearby charter schools. The children in New York’s traditional public schools are much poorer than their counterparts in charter schools. And public schools have far higher numbers of English language learners… In backing charter schools Bloomberg and other advocates pointed to one clear benefit: charters, it was widely accepted, would increase standardized test scores. However, years of studies showed little difference between the test-score performance of students in charter schools and those in public schools.” After the Education Wars, p. 95)

And there is more. Open the link and read it to understand why the “business model” did not work.

Almost 90% of American students attend public schools, subject to democratic control. 6% of American students are enrolled in privately managed charter schools. Under the leadership of Betsy DeVos, it is obvious that the promotion of both charters and vouchers is central to the education policy of the Trump administration.

Two Democratic senators who are candidates for president, Bernie Sanders and Elizabeth Warren, have released education plans that recommend an end to federal support for charter schools (currently $440 million), which DeVos has handed out to corporate charter chains like IDEA and KIPP.

Senator Cory Booker, having equivocated during the campaign about his previous zealous support for charters, vouchers, and Betsy DeVos, surprisingly reversed course and wrote an article in the New York Times, once again stating his support for charters.

Since Senator Booker is polling at less than 2% in the primaries, he may be looking past the election to restore his relationship with his funders, who love charter schools and were disappointed by his apparent defection from their cause.

Leonie Haimson writes here about Senator Booker’s curious use of the word “boogeyman” to belittle critics of charter schools.

She notes that reporters at the New York Times have also used that term to belittle charter critics. Then she googled and found that the same word has been used by charter defenders thousands of times.

Haimson points out that charters in NYC divert more than $2 billion each year from the public school system. That money might have been spent to meet crucial capital needs and to reduce class sizes.

Also, Senator Booker did not mention that the national NAACP passed a resolution in 2016 calling for a moratorium on charters.

There are many reasons to be critical of charters, including their diversion of funding from public schools, their private governance, their long and well-documented record of waste, fraud, and abuse.

To dismiss all criticism of charters as a fear of a boogeyman is cynical, to say the least, and serves only the interests of the charter industry.

 

 

New York City’s Department of Education launched a new initiative with old and failed ideas: more testing for schools with low scores.

Liat Olenick, a teacher of science in elementary school in the city, explains why more testing is a very bad idea. She says smaller classes would be far more valuable and effective.

Gary Rubinstein read a story in the local Rupert Murdoch newspaper saluting Eva Moskowitz’s charter chain for its high SAT scores, but then noticed how many students were in the senior class. (Billionaire media mogul Rupert Murdoch is a multimillion-dollar donor to the  Success Academy charter chain.)

What school advertises its SAT scores? Success Academy!

Gary noticed that of the students who started in second grade, nearly 70% did not make it to the senior year.

He writes:

The New York Post recently ran an editorial about the SAT scores of the Success Academy senior class of 2020.  Of all the different numbers they referenced, one that I took note of was 114 — the apparent number of students in the senior class.

The class of 2020 is the third graduating class of Success Academy.  The class of 2018 had 17 seniors out of a cohort of 73 first graders in 2006-2007.  The class of 2019 had 26 seniors out of a cohort of 83 kindergartners in 2006-2007.  Some of the class of 2019 were students who had been held back from the class of 2018 — probably in a comparable number to the number of 2019 students who will graduate this year.  So the 26 out of 83, or 31% persistence rate probably accounts for students who take an extra year to graduate.

For the class of 2020, things get a bit more complicated since in 2008 Success Academy did its first expansion and grew from one school, now called Harlem 1, into four schools now including Harlem 2, Harlem 3, and Harlem 4.  Some of the past records are incomplete for these schools, but when the 2020 cohort was in 2nd grade in 2009-2010, I find that there was a combined 353 students in the cohort.  By 6th grade, they were down to 263 students and by 9th grade it was 191.  In 10th grade they were 161 students and in 11th grade, 146.  And now, according to the New York Post article based on a Success Academy press release, they have 114 seniors.  So only 32% of the students who were there in second grade made it through their program.

Better test scores through attrition, a surefire formula for success!

I have had a long-running exchange with a wealthy pundit who gives six-figure amounts to Success Academy. He says they have found the secret sauce for educating all children in the New York City public schools, and for all schools everywhere. I ask him what should be done about the majority of students they accept who don’t survive. He seems to think they don’t matter. Only the strong survive. Or deserve to survive.

Today in the New York Times, columnist Charles Blow wrote a scathing critique of Bloomberg, based on his “stop and frisk” policy.

He wrote:

Let me plant the stake now: No black person — or Hispanic person or ally of people of color — should ever even consider voting for Michael Bloomberg in the primary. His expansion of the notoriously racist stop-and-frisk program in New York, which swept up millions of innocent New Yorkers, primarily young black and Hispanic men, is a complete and nonnegotiable deal killer.

Stop-and-frisk, pushed as a way to get guns and other contraband off the streets, became nothing short of a massive, enduring, city-sanctioned system of racial terror…

In 2002, the first year Bloomberg was mayor, 97,296 of these stops were recorded. They surged during Bloomberg’s tenure to a peak of 685,724 stops in 2011, near the end of his third term. Nearly 90 percent of the people who were stopped and frisked were innocent of any wrongdoing.

A New York Times analysis of stops on “eight odd blocks” in the overwhelmingly black neighborhood of Brownsville in Brooklyn found close to 52,000 stops over four years, which averaged out to “nearly one stop a year for every one of the 14,000 residents of these blocks.”

In 2009, there were more than 580,000 stop-and-frisks, a record at the time. Of those stopped, 55 percent were black, 32 percent Hispanic and only 10 percent white. Most were young, and almost all were male. Eighty-eight percent were innocent. For reference, according to the Census Bureau, there were about 300,000 black men between the ages of 13 and 34 living in the city that year.

Not only that, but those who were stopped had their names entered into a comprehensive police database, even if they were never accused of committing a crime. As Donna Lieberman, then the executive director of the New York Civil Liberties Union, said in 2010, the database became a place “where millions of completely innocent, predominantly black and Latinos have been turned into permanent police suspects.”

The state outlawed the keeping of these electronic records on the innocent, over the strong objections of Bloomberg and his police chief…

Bloomberg’s crime argument was dubious. The Columbia Law School professor Jeffrey Fagan produced a report that became part of a class-action lawsuit against the city in 2010. It found that: “[s]eizures of weapons or contraband are extremely rare. Overall, guns are seized in less than 1 percent of all stops: 0.15 percent … Contraband, which may include weapons but also includes drugs or stolen property, is seized in 1.75 percent of all stops.”

As Fagan wrote, “The N.Y.P.D. stop-and-frisk tactics produce rates of seizures of guns or other contraband that are no greater than would be produced simply by chance…”

A federal judge ruled in 2013 that New York’s stop-and-frisk tactics violated the constitutional rights of racial minorities, calling it a “policy of indirect racial profiling.”

Yet, a little over a month before that ruling, Bloomberg said on a radio show, “I think we disproportionately stop whites too much and minorities too little.”