Empowering Principals: The Erosion of Quality, Standards and Rigor in the Brave New World

“O wonder!
How many goodly creatures are there here!
How beautious mankind is!
O brave new world
That has such people in’t!”

I keep thinking that the “Brave New World” of School Support Organizations, with 500 unregulated Empowerment schools is simply a “wink and a nod” to principals – do what you have to do to improve results – no questions asked!

High school diploma requirements  are set by the State Education Department and spelled out in detail. For generations complying with diploma requirements was gospel, if you had a question you contacted Larry Edwards, the Guidance Guru ensconced at 110, and a real nice guy! In the Brave New World of empowered principals it has become commonplace to simply hand out credits, an independent study, a project: credit recovery has become synonymous with “alternative” methods of credit accumulation.

Who monitors “credit recovery”? Does the Department have standards for credit recovery programs?

The answer: no one monitors anything and there are no standards. The Department simply “encourages” principals to be leaders … so long as your School Progress Report grade is satisfactory – and the core of the Progress Report grade in high schools are credit accumulation and Regents.

Who monitors the marking of Regents? Should teachers mark the papers of their own students? especially when the student’s grade on the Regents determines the success/failure of the school and in reality is the “grade” of the principal?

Perhaps, just perhaps, the new Community and High School Superintendents will actually monitor what is going on in schools. They should take a look at student transcripts: have schools been following State Ed requirements in the allocation of credits?  Do schools have transparent grading policies? Does the school have a Course Accreditation Committee? Does the UFT Chapter Leader serve on the committee?
Unfortunately I fear that the philosophy of the new Superintendents will be

As I was going up the stair,
I met a man, who wasn’t there.
He wasn’t there again today,
Oh, how I wish he’d go away.

In other words: nonsense, as the Superintendents roam from school to school dispensing soma.


4 responses to “Empowering Principals: The Erosion of Quality, Standards and Rigor in the Brave New World

  1. Wow, you’re so on the money! Our school allowed students to “recover” 2 credits in 3-4 days over the Feb. break. But hey, those five handouts that the students completed were tough. Give them 2 credits…aw, hell, let’s give them 20 credits. And don’t forget to harass the teachers into passing all who enter…or enter occasionally the classroom.
    Here’s a great challenge to journalists. Pick any 10 graduates from an “average”school and have them write a paragraph about anything. Print those paragraphs on the front page as proof of the success of the Bloom/Klein reforms. Or not.


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