Monday, October 04, 2010

Grades of Mediocrity

The NY Post states the obvious today-the DOE's grading system for NYC schools is simply a failure: "It is becoming increasingly clear that Schools Chancellor Joel Klein is doing no one any favors -- not the public, and certainly not himself -- by assigning letter-grade report cards to city schools. The jerry-rigged system for determining the grades obscures more than it reveals. Thus, the information the cards impart is worse than misleading -- it's virtually useless."

But why stop there? So much of what the Kleinberg regime has done lacks utility for the school kids-beginning with the colossal waste of huge extra expenditures of money that simply hasn't done much to improve the performance of the children; and the chancellor's heavy top down management style has one longing for the more decentralized approach that came under such heavy fire when the mayor rode into office on his white limousine.

And it's nice to finally see the Post rise from its editorial slumber on all things Bloomberg: "Start with the fact that this year's grades, released last week, show a steep drop in the number of schools getting A's -- from 889 last year to 289 Thursday. Have schools suddenly gotten that much worse? Not at all. Turns out, educrats simply recalibrated standards, making tests harder to pass. So the schools look worse."

But when the phony tests were pumping up the mayor's volume, the Post and its cheerleader companion NY Daily News were gyrating  with euphoria-and we could fairly say, paraphrasing the Post, that the schools weren't better, but that the school tests were watered down so that they would look like they were. At the time, however, the Post and News suspended their disbelief-and the public was misinformed about the state of city education under the mayor.

Now, nine years into his term, we hear that Bloomberg is going to really do something about teacher tenure: "We'll do more to support teachers and reward great teaching, and that includes ending tenure as we know it, so that tenure is awarded for performance, not taken for granted," Bloomberg said on MSNBC as part of NBC's "Education Nation" program."

The reality here is that the Bloomberg miracle was of the legend in his own mind variety-but with the ability to spend legendary amounts of money on self promotion and the enlistment of sycophants and toadies, a false positive was attributed to schools that haven't really risen much beyond where they were when the mayor came into office. When the dust settles, we believe that the retrospective view of Mike Bloomberg will be in line with the, "poor player," observation of Macbeth:

"That struts and frets his hour upon the stage
And then is heard no more: it is a tale
Told by an idiot, full of sound and fury,
Signifying nothing."