Can Messianic Jesus/Moses/Mohammad-like Teachers “Close the Gap?” Is “No Excuses” Nonsense? Can We Create High Performing Schools Without Acknowledging the Pathology of Poverty?

Hundreds of principals and Department/SSO staff attended the “rollout” of the “new thing” at the Grand Hyatt on April 23rd. The “dog and pony” show has meandered around the city at poorly attended boro meetings. At some there were many more SSO  staff members than visitors.

By May 15th all 1400 plus principals will have to chose a School Support Organization (SSO) – with “limiting criteria,” and by early June everybody should be placed. Under the radar the “inspection/audit” system is being put in place. The SSO will NOT rate or evaluate, only “support,” whatever that means. The “inspection/audit” responsibility, aka the accountability police, will manage the School Progress Report, that is now aligned with each principal’s year end evaluation. While the SSO whispers suggestions the accountability folk will wield the whip, and, ultimately, the guillotine.

The goal is to create high performing schools were all children are above average, the Lake Wobegon effect.

By either empowering principals in networks of schools, or, supporting them in theme-based uber-structures, or, partnering them with not-for-profits we will create highly effective principals, and, the accountability folk can sweep away the detritus, the guy and gal principals who fail their School Progress Reports.

This structure will create those messianic, Jesus/Moses/Mohammad teachers who can change the world, or, will it?

Can teachers, no matter how great they may be, close the achievement gap?

Richard Rothstein, author of Class and Schools: Using Social, Economic, and Educational Reform to Close the Black-White Achievement Gap (Teachers College, 2004) argues,

“…the influence of social class characteristics is probably so powerful that schools cannot overcome it, no matter how well trained are their teachers and no matter how well designed are their instructional programs and climate.”

“…there is nothing illogical about a belief that schools, if well operated, can raise lower class achievement without investing in health, social, early childhood, after-school and summer programs. But while the belief is not illogical, it is implausible, and the many claims made about instructional heroes or methods that close the gap are, upon examination, unfounded. The only prudent conclusion is that raising achievement of lower-class students will be very expensive, requiring more than high standards, testing and tough accountability.”

The Klein decision to spend hundreds of million of dollars on structure is fatally flawed.

Ironically his boss, Mayor Bloomberg might be moving in the right direction. The recommendations of the Mayor’s Poverty Commission  are a beginning in a direct assault, moving targeting population away from core poverty.

The New York State Teachers Union (NYSUT) is also onboard pinpointing social policy issues that must be addressed in order to “close the gap.”

Mayor Bloomberg and the Teacher’s Union, who have been at odds on numerous issues acknowledge that poverty-related social policy issues must be addressed while Chancellor Klein is leading the school system into the abyss of structural reform after structural reform. Do Mike and Joel occasionally talk to each other?

A British newspaper, the Daily Telegraph, reports that the stresses of “audit” have resulted in the suicide of teachers – while the Department bureaucrats chisel the new motto on the Tweed courthouse, “The Beatings Will Continue Until Morale Improves.”

How many days until Klein sunsets?


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )


Connecting to %s