“Dead Prez,” Arrogance and Hubris versus the Lives of Our Kids: The Department of Education Is More Interested in “Legacy” Than “Reality.”


In the hallways, the [police] was always present

Searching through possessions

Looking for dope and weapons

Get your lessons

That’s why my moms kept stressing

I tried to pay attention but they classes wasn’t interesting

They seemed to only glorify the Europeans

Claiming Africans were only three-fifths a human being

School is like a 12 step brainwash camp

They make you think if you drop out, you ain’t got a chance

To advance in life, they try to make you pull your pants up

Students fight the teachers and get took away in handcuffs

And if that wasn’t enough, then they expel y’all

Your peoples understand it but to them, you a failure

They may as well teach us extortion

You either get paid or locked up, the principal is like a warden

A gorgeous snowy morning and I trudged up to Lehman College for Dropout Summit II. Last year over 400 folks gathered to listen to a galaxy of luminaries discuss the dropout crisis. On Friday over 200 hardy individuals ignored the snow flakes to listen and discuss issues concerning our most fragile kids. Leading political figures addressed us:
Bill Thompson, the Comptroller, and a 2009 mayoral contender gave a major address.
* supporter of mayoral control
* but, parents were left out …we have to include them.
* expand universal pre-K
* strong supporter of art/music programs that have fallen victim to excessive testing
* expand of CTE programs, especially building trades.
Betsy Gotbaum, the Public Advocate:
* went through the data showing increasing numbers of dropouts each year … challenging the DOE numbers.
* strongly supported state certified CTE programs … (state requirements are much more rigorous than those of the DOE).
* challenged the DOE testing program as excessive.
Charles Rangel, the Chairman of the House Ways and Means Committee:
* told his life story, a high school dropout, who reclaimed his life.
* explained how education is the underpinning of every other program.
* supports federal legislation to support a national dropout initiative.
* calls for more “outrage,” from the public.
The host, Cory Goodman, the Director of Directions for Our Youth, the Not-for-Youth that created the conference, introduced the “first lady,” Silda Spitzer and Manny Rivera, the # 2 guy in the NYS Education Department.
Elected officials from around the city were acknowledged and Bob Wise, the former Governor of West Virginia, and now the head of a major national advocacy organization explained the Graduation Promise Act, a bill to create a national dropout prevention program.
Dennis Walcott, the Deputy Mayor for Education. was the luncheon speaker. He announced he was discarding his speech … and gave a rambling speech defending the Bloomberg initiatives, emphasizing, “…we must put our differences aside.” 
Maybe a phone call from Mike to Joel is in order.
As reported in these pages the Department chose to boycott the conference, and backed off a little after a NY Sun article, sending two mid level administrators.
Missing in Action:
Cami Anderson, the Superintendent of District 79, the Department organization that runs the GED Plus program. Maybe she didn’t want to explain how the Department reorganized the entire GED program and “lost” thousands of kids. Or, why she is reducing the number of GED testing sites …
Joellen Lynch, the head of the Multiple Pathways program – that oversees the entire dropout prevention effort. Perhaps she was shy about answering data questions … how can graduation rates be rising when dropouts are increasing?
Maybe they didn’t want to listen to Leonie Haimson, from Class Size Matters, who was a panelist. She gave a detailed analysis of the DOE data … that effectively challenges claims of rising graduation rates and dropping dropout numbers.
In too many schools we alienate and turn off kids … we beat them to death with test prep .. and “lockdown” classes.
In too many schools “command and control” is the educational philosophy.
In too many schools education has been reduced to “teacher-proof” mega programs …
Rather than engaging in a dialogue … among the Department, kids, parents, teachers, advocates and the public, who, after all, pays for public education, the Department raises the draw bridge.
They have sealed themselves into their Tweed Castle … with an army of publicists “spinning” their “successes” across the country.
Everything is a “success,” except for the kids, discarded by a school system more interested in their image and their legacy.
They are deaf to cries of the very kids they are supposed to serve.

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