Tuesday, October 19, 2010

Educational Malpractice

When the Bloombergistas took over the city's educational governance system and brought in the MBAs to create a more business like approach to the structure, we at least expected a certain degree of competency. As it turns out, however, things aren't running as smoothly as they should down at Tweed-as the NY Daily News story that ran over the weekend points out: "Despite this year's decline on state test scores, it may be harder than ever to get extra help at some city schools. Under the federal rules for No Child Left Behind, poor kids can sign up for free tutoring if they attend failing schools. This year, the city set an early deadline for students to sign up, which some school and tutoring company officials say creates an unnecessary obstacle for families who are already struggling."

And if you miss the early deadline, you're plumb out of luck: "This doesn't make any sense," said one Brooklyn parent coordinator. "It's a chance for kids to get free tutoring. We're stressing higher education and opportunities for kids to improve, so let's get it." Forms have to be in by Friday - or kids won't get tutoring until after Christmas."

Kinda reminds us of that bad old Board of Ed. Back in the day when teaching allowed young men a chance to be deferred from fighting in Vietnam, the BOE failed one year to process the deferments on time and thousands of reluctant educators were called down to Whitehall Street for their pre-induction physicals. It was a scene right out of Alice's Restaurants, and we were really tempted to answer in the affirmative the question concerning membership in a subversive organization. Our hopes did get a momentary boost when they took our pulse and found that it barely registered at 43.

We watched hopefully as our doctor brought a few of his colleagues over to inform them of the aberration. "What does this mean?" we asked. To which the doctor replied with a smile, "It means on those forty mile hikes with a pack, you'll be right out in front." Deflated, we found a new sense of religion, and prayed for divine intervention-which came a few days later when the tardy BOE finally did process all of our deferments.

But we do digress. It does seem that the new DOE is remarkably similar in its centralized inefficiency to the old BOE. As the News reminds us: "Critics suggested the city should postpone the deadline until at least after the first report cards come out. "You're rushing kids to make a decision," said a high school parent coordinator. She noted the first parent-teacher conferences for high schools - when parents might first discover a problem - are scheduled for Oct. 28. Officials with tutoring companies suggested the deadline is part of an effort to save money. The tutoring is funded with federal money that could be directed to schools if it's not used on the program."

Where's Bill Thompson when you need him? And this year we can expect an avalanche of interest in tutoring since we have been disabused by testing realities about the false nature of school achievement. We'll give the News the last word: "The plummeting test scores are also expected to inspire parents' interest in tutoring, the official said."