Deja Vu, Again! “Gates” Are Impenetrable Unless Accompanied By A “Real” Program


“Remember that there is a meaning beyond absurdity.
 Be sure that every little deed counts, that every word has power.
Never forget that you can still do your share to redeem the world
 in spite of all absurdities and frustrations and disappointments.”
 Abraham Heschel
I’m glad to see that the Mayor is reading the blogosphere …
The trompe d’oeil that is called Children’s First, the Klein try at comprehensive educational reform has been ignoring promotional standards in the 8th grade and pumping ill-prepared kids into high schools, and, lo and behold, they fail.
Deja vu, again, the Department reaches back to the days of former Chancellor Frank Macchiarola, and his 4th and 8th grade “Gates”. Rudy Crew flirted with the same concept, and, Mayor Mike had added it to his playbook. The initial press release is short on details, and does set up a number of public hearings, unfortunately the rubber stamp, the current reiteration of the Board of Education, is the final voter.
The slide show accompanying the press release has pretty colored graphs showing that Level 1 kids who go on to high school usually don’t graduate. wow! It would be interesting to track the Level 1 kids who do graduate and see what programs worked!!
One wonders whether the Mayor actually wants to address the problem of kids falling behind or is adding a plank to his presidential campaign platform.
Around about the 4th grade teachers begin to identify kids who are falling behind. Frequently their academic difficulties are accompanied by discipline issues and deteriorating attendance, With each grade the kid falls further behind, becomes more frustrated, acts out, and the road to dropping out is clear.
My first teaching job was at an inner city junior high school, I taught class 9-16, it was made up of 17 and 18 year old 9th graders … in those days we were “tough,” we held over kids and held over kids … until they dropped out … and found jobs … these jobs still exist … except they’re in China!
The Department did identify fifty low achieving Middle School and give them additional dollars … but … do they know how to use the dollars?
A timely just released report by Mass Insight points out that school districts have not been successful at turning around schools and makes a range of thoughtful suggestions:
Lew Smith, an associate professor of education at Fordham University in New York City who writes about school leadership and partners with schools that are redesigning, said the Mass Insight model deserves points for advocating “protected spaces,” free of bureaucratic constraints, and for defining turnaround expertise as a specialized discipline, distinct from general school improvement efforts.  But he said it doesn’t adequately address what must be done to lead a school’s staff to embrace change, and the role the principal must play.

“There is very little attention paid to how you move people from point A to point B,” Mr. Smith said. “Leaders have to understand human dynamics, why people don’t want to change, and take steps to widen that comfort zone. You’re going to need ongoing professional development for teachers and principals.”

Lois Adams-Rodgers, one of the deputy executive directors of the Washington-based Council of Chief State School Officers, which intends to distribute copies of the report to all its members, said the framework can help states reconceptualize their roles.

“You can’t create a blitzkrieg and send in a team for six months like, ‘By golly, they’ll tell those folks what to do.’ There is no sustainability there,” she said. “This [report] helps us think about transforming the system in ways that can be sustained. It’s a much different conversation, among more people. That’s good, because there truly is no silver bullet.”

Let’s say that again: there truly is no magic bullet!!!

Promotional Gates, or, moats, are a charade if they not accompanied by a real program … blaming the principal, or the teachers, or the Support Organization is the mantra from Tweed. They take no responsibility for the inchoate monstrosity that they created.

The emperor continues to have no clothes.


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