Wednesday, July 15, 2009

Bill of Goods

According to our thesaurus, a bill of goods, is described as; "communication (written or spoken) that persuades someone to accept something untrue or undesirable; "they tried to sell me a bill of goods about a secondhand car" Which brings us to the selling of mayoral control of the schools-and the Abbot and Costello role that is being by Mike Bloomberg and the NY Post.

As the NY Daily News reports, all is not seashells and balloons when it comes to the performance of the schools under the mayor's watch. In particular, those vaunted test scores-as we have been arguing ad infinitum-need to be given a saliva test: "An apple for teacher? Mayor Bloomberg's controversial end to social promotion is being undermined by low testing standards."

Which is why, according to the News, the mayor's decision to end social promotion probably has been undermined: "To earn a promotion this year, however, elementary and middle school students in every grade needed fewer points on both the state math and reading exams than they did in 2006. "What appears to be happening in the last four years [is] the hurdle is getting lower," said Fred Smith, a Bloomberg administration critic and former testing analyst for the Board of Education."

Put in more simple and graphic terms, the tests are watered down, and all of the hoo ha over the "Bloomberg Miracle," needs to be given a cold shower: "In 2006, for example, third-graders had to get 44% of points on the math tests to earn a promotion, compared with 28% this year..."I have kids who really struggle as readers," said Claudia de Luna Castro, who teaches fourth and fifth grades at Harlem's Central Park East II and had no students who scored at level one. "It always makes me wonder when I see data that doesn't match my experience of my kids."

Which brings us to the NY Post's best seller, "The Selling of Mayoral Control." The paper has never bothered, unlike the Daily News, to ever examine the data that it-and eager partner Bloomberg-uncritically disseminates. These two vaudevillians are simply selling us, a bill of goods-and it's the people of New York that are suffering from this disinformation campaign. And we haven't even mentioned the fact that education spending has risen by billions of dollars; cost-benefit anyone?

Merryl Tisch hits it on the head: "State Regents Chancellor Merryl Tisch said the tests were not rigorous enough. "You can equate tests," she said, "but if you're not demanding a high enough standard, what you're equating is a low-level test." "Ultimately, these children will struggle because they will find themselves in high school or somewhere they are not ready for," said Carol Boyd, a parent leader with the New York City Coalition for Educational Justice. "We're moving them along, but we're setting them up to fail."

All this for $20,000 a year per pupil? Where do we go to ask for our money back?