Friday, January 21, 2011

Replace David Steiner

It was bad enough that State Ed Commissioner David Steiner swallowed his whistle on the Bloomberg appointment of Cathie Black to be NYC schools chancellor. But as bad as that acquiescence was-and the more we hear from Black the worse Bloomberg's choice appears-it pales in comparison to his failure to radically overhaul the state's testing regime as promised.

Testing analyst Fred Smith comments on this failure in yesterday's NY Post: "Regents Chancellor Merryl Tisch and state Education Commissioner David Steiner have soberly pledged that New York testing will get more rigorous, with higher standards and honest information. They failed to meet those objectives with last year's exams. Yes, they raised the "cut scores" on the math and English tests so that 25 percent fewer kids were deemed proficient in 2010. But the tests themselves weren't intrinsically harder than before. The exams -- still designed by test vendor CTB/McGraw-Hill -- remain very soft."

What this means to us is that we still are lacking a reliable arbiter of how well NYC school kids are performing-and the fraudulent results that buoyed the DOE and the mayor in the past have yet to be overcome. In essence, there is simply no good way to determine how successful the mayoral control effort has been in the city-and that's without even factoring in the mayor's extreme ratcheting up of educational outlays.

So, in our view, David Steiner needs to be replaced. For nine years we have been bamboozled on school testing by a combination of mayoral braggadocio, bureaucratic bluster, and editorial flackerry-all because of inflated test scores that gave the Bloomberg toadies all of the false positives to exploit. The fact that the state tests still don't provide a proper measuring stick for school achievement is inexcusable. It is nothing less than a firing offense.