Friday, June 20, 2008

Klein's Wolf Tickets

Leave it to Andrew Wolf to really dramatize the dangerous ground that the Kleinemen are treading when they tinker with the talented and gifted programs. In this morning's NY Sun he writes: "Lessons should be learned from Chancellor Klein's endeavor to provide "equity" to the city's gifted and talented programs. After years of effort to undermine existing programs because they were not diverse enough, the "fair" system devised by the Education Department appears to have resulted in even less diverse results. We shouldn't be surprised. Improved results will come not from more manipulation or empty rhetoric, but from more and better instruction."

As Wolf points out, "narrowing the gap" racially has been turned into lowering the bar for everyone: "There has been a lot of talk lately about how the reform of the public schools is somehow a civil rights initiative. This is nothing new; policy wonks have been engaging in similar conversations for years. But this is wrong-headed thinking. So consumed are we with "narrowing the gap" that the only real strategy put forward by the educational establishment is lowering the bar for everyone. The most mediocre gains are interpreted as great victories. And in some cases attempts to be inclusive and fair end up backfiring in a dramatic way. This apparently is what happened to the gifted program this year."

What we need is better education for each and every child; something that the current group of reformers have badly mishandled. As Wolf points out: "New Yorkers have caught on to the crisis at Tweed. Lost in all the minutiae of the New York Times poll released earlier this week on Mayor Bloomberg's performance is this tidbit: in October, 2005, 19% of voters thought that his performance on education was the best thing Mr. Bloomberg achieved since taking office. Now that number is down to just 5%."

So now Klein gets into the gutter with the Rev Al. Ready for the misdirection? "The chancellor co-chairs a new activist group with Rev. Sharpton identifying education as a "civil rights issue" to be "remedied" by structural reform including mayoral control, free market solutions, and limiting the power of teachers' unions." Oh boy!

As we commented earlier, all of this tinkering is a noxious brew, no substitute for excellence for all. Let's give Herman Badillo the last word on this fiasco: "Mr. Klein can hardly claim to have created a model here in New York worthy of replication nationwide, given our poor results and soaring expenditures. "Why is Joel Klein traveling the country when after six years in office he failed to deliver the goods here in New York?" Herman Badillo asks. Mr. Badillo, who is widely credited with turning around Gotham's public colleges during his tenure as Chair of the Board of Trustees of the City University, suggests a different approach: raising academic standards and level of instruction for all — One City, One Standard."