Monday, May 17, 2010

The Chart Before the Horse

Is it just us, or are there others who see a bit of incongruity in the fact that Mike Bloomberg is pushing charter schools with such vigor? As the NY Daily News reports: "The city needs more charter schools to improve its public schools, Mayor Bloomberg argued Sunday.
"When I came into office in 2002, I said the most important thing is public schools, because that's the future of our city," he said. "We have to make sure our public schools get better and better." Bloomberg said President Obama is ready to pump money into the city through the Race to the Top program, but insisted the state Legislature has gotten in the way. "There are 40,000 kids trying to get into 10,000 places in our charter schools and the Legislature won't let us add more charter schools," Bloomberg said, encouraging residents to use 311 to relay complaints to lawmakers."

Now if we were running a school system that saw 40,000 kids-like the doomed in a gas chamber-scratching and clawing to get the hell out before it was too late, we would not be out there cheering the kiddies and their parents on. We would be hiding our faces to avoid the embarrassment of having to admit the the exodus was an indictment of our own over publicized effort to reform the current edifice-voting with their feet, as it were.

But Bloomberg, for his part, continues to speak with forked tongue-and touts achievements that are evanescent at best: "The mayor made his charter school push yesterday while visiting the Christian Cultural Center in Starrett City, Brooklyn. He spoke briefly to a congregation of about 80 during the Sunday morning services. Graduation rates in New York City's public schools have risen 27% during the past 5 years, Bloomberg said during his speech. The high school graduation rate for city students was at 59% in 2009, up from 56.4% in 2008, state officials announced in March.
This is the Bloomberg version of, "The operation was a success, but the patient died." The grad rate increase is accompanied by a barely minimal increased knowledge level-as the city's community colleges will attest. The kids are getting out with greater alacrity, but with skills that have yet to reach any level of marketability-let alone that would allow for success at college.

So, we are all in favor of charting a different and more diverse educational course-one that allows for a greater degree of choice for the city's families. But we support this in recognition of the fact that, after eight years and billions of extra dollars, the Bloomberg miracle will become the companion of that great Dukakis "Massachusetts miracle." And we know how that story ended. ("Was he any good as governor? In his first term, he inherited a big budget deficit and high unemployment, and things were a bit better by the time he was booted from office, but not enough better to impress voters. In his second stint, the state's economy brightened enough to be called "the Massachusetts miracle", but it was already fading by the time Dukakis received the Democratic presidential nomination in 1988.)"

Bloomberg's education miracle has been abetted by lavish spending and an incredible suspension of disbelief on the part of an all too credulous media. But, as per Dukakis' economic mirage, it is "already fading" and will be exposed as a fraud in not too short an order (as soon as the state tests are reconfigured, the whole house of cards-Humpty Dumpty-like-will tumble ).