Tuesday, October 21, 2008


If what Woody Allen has said is true, and 90% of success in life is simply showing up, then we got big problems in our city schools; you know, the ones that have been showing spectacular progress according to the Bloomberg manufactured rose colored glasses. Here's this morning's account from the NY Times (citing a New School report) of rampant absenteeism:

"More than 90,000 of New York City’s elementary school students — roughly 20 percent — missed at least a month of classes during the last school year, with attendance problems most acute in central Brooklyn, Harlem and the South Bronx, according to a report scheduled for release on Tuesday. Chronic absenteeism in elementary schools is disproportionately a problem in poor and minority communities and it immediately puts students behind their middle-class peers,” concludes the report, by the Center for New York City Affairs at the New School. “The academic pressures build over time and build quickly."

And the situation's even worse in the upper grades: "The situation was worse in higher grades — 40 percent of high school students and 24 percent of middle school students were absent for at least a month — but the report focuses on elementary schools because absenteeism among young students is less widely discussed even though it is believed to worsen over time and lead to dropouts."

And wouldn't you know that when the schools are graded in the bogus accounting system that the Kleinemen have set up, absenteeism only accounts for 5% of the grade; the chancellor apparently only looks like Woody Allen but has eschewed his acuity about the importance of showing up.

So we have this anomaly. Our schools are showing great improvement-except for the fact that large swaths of the kids are chronically absent: "Examining detailed attendance reports for the city’s nearly 1,500 public schools, the report found that in 124 elementary schools, 98 middle schools and 41 schools serving kindergarten through eighth grade, at least 30 percent of the students were chronically absent, defined as missing 20 days of the 185-day school year. (The report did not provide the number of high schools with such absentee rates.) Makes you wonder about the veracity of those test scores, doesn't it?

And, of course, absenteeism is most severe in those areas where school performance is worse: "Indeed, absenteeism varies widely across the city. In Bayside, Queens, a middle-class neighborhood with many single-family homes, about 5 percent of students in kindergarten through fifth grade were chronically absent, compared with 30 percent of those in the Morrisania section of the Bronx, where there are several public housing projects."

Apparently, not everyone has gotten the education message-and that includes the editorial cheer leading squad that has been doing flips for a third term for Mayor Mike. Maybe they could answer why, with a school budget that has increased 79%, school performance remains flat and so many of the school children aren't bothering to attend.