Friday, February 25, 2011

Compulsive Miseducation

The bad news keeps pouring in-and the Bloomberg Educational Miracle is crumbling along with it. The latest comes from the NY Times report on the national science test scores: "Only 18 percent of the city’s public school fourth graders and 13 percent of its eighth graders demonstrated proficiency on the most recent national science exams, far below state and national levels, according to results released Thursday. Alan J. Friedman, a member of the National Assessment Governing Board, which oversees the tests, called the city’s results “a big disappointment,” particularly because New York has a number of cultural organizations devoted to science, like the Museum of Natural History and the New York Hall of Science in Queens, which he directed for 22 years."

Another sad example of how much the trumpeted Bloomberg education gains have turned into just so much hot air-something that Sol Stern and Fred Siegel document extensively in Commentary. (We plan a fuller analysis of this next week). Stern and Siegal dramatize the extent to which Kleinberg used the fraudulent state test scores to promote the mayor's remarkable educational breakthroughs-and the collusionj between the mayor and the UFT's Weingarten to cover up the growing suspicion that the scores were unreliable at best.

Weingarten got more teachers, higher salaries and better benefits-along with undeserved bonuses for her members-while the mayor got a silent partner in a fraud perpetuated on the school kids and their parents. S&S also highlight the role of Al Sharpton in the conspiracy of silence-something we have also pointed out in our, "dog that didn't bark" commentary. They underscore the correlation between the Sharpton Code of Omerta and a money trail leading directly and indirectly from the mayor to the Cash and Carry man of the cashmere cloth.

All of which makes the latest news about the science tests unsurprising-but it also reveals the extent to which, "teaching to the test," has undermined overall learning: "Nationwide, more students show proficiency in math and English than in science, and the city has scored closer to the national average on those tests than in science. Mr. Friedman, of the national board, said over all, the city’s poor performance in science suggested that the emphasis on math and English, which have been the main measures of school progress under the federal No Child Left Behind law, had come at the expense of other subjects. “It does play a big role,” he said, “and that’s one of the major problems we have.”

These national results are also further evidence that the state tests-and the city's reliance on them-are part of an outrageous fraud that has, as we have pointed out, approached Enron-like proportions: "The results also call into question the rigor of New York State’s own science exams, which are given to all fourth and eighth graders. On the most recent state exams, 80 percent of the city’s fourth graders and 49 percent of its eighth graders showed proficiency."

Of course, the results are even worse for racial minorities-as the NY Post reports: "A breakdown of the city scores by race and ethnicity saw 41 percent of white students pass, compared to pass rates of 34 percent among Asian/Pacific Islanders, 10 percent among Hispanic students and just 9 percent among black students. In eighth grade, 36 percent of Asian/Pacific Islanders scored proficiently, compared to 29 percent of white students, 6 percent of Hispanic students and 5 percent of black students."

We await with bated breathe for the righteous indignation of the rabble rousing reverend-something that will never happen as long as those checks can still continue to be cashed. All of this is strong evidence that Mike Bloomberg's tenure has been, charitably, less than stellar; and that the Stern/Siegel critique is long overdue.