Friday, November 11, 2005

NYC Schools Failing in Science

According to the Times, Julia Rankin, the official in charge of NYC’s science education, has given the city’s schools a failing grade for its teaching of this subject:

Dr. Rankin said she would give the science education program a grade of 55 after she was asked by a city council member, Robert Jackson of Manhattan, to rate performance on a 100-point scale.
The abhorrent state of the city’s science curriculum, including a lack of knowledge about what individual schools are teaching, is also emphasized further along in the article:

Council members said that the school system suffered from a lack of qualified science teachers, laboratory space and classroom time to spend on science, and that the results were lackluster test scores in the low grades and high failure rates for high school students on the science Regents exams.

In addition, they said, the science curriculum is uneven and the department has very little knowledge of what actually happens in individual schools regarding science, a claim that education officials at the hearing did not dispute.
This post-election revelation shows that the flaw in the heavily funded Bloomberg narrative that the city’s schools are improving. Without anyone challenging his claims, the mayor was able to drum into people’s heads that his 1st term lead to an unquestioned betterment of our education system. Because Bloomberg could effectively shut out competing messages, Ferrer never had a chance to seriously raise questions about whether the Administration was improperly focusing solely on teaching to the tests and doing so only in the subjects of math and reading (there is also the question of whether increased scores are due to easier tests).

Greg Sargent’s analysis rings especially true here: the mayor’s advertising monopoly effectively destroyed the chance for a vigorous campaign where Bloomberg’s record and the city’s future were debated. Instead voters, and even pundits, hearing only one message, began to believe it. Unfortunately, it is only now that we will start seeing that the mayor is guilty of false advertising and how dangerous this is for both our democratic process and the well-being of our city. Again, now that the media barrage is over and more stories like this come out, people will start doubting the Times's charaterization of Mike Bloomberg as potentially one of the greatest mayors in NYC history.