Ed Koch was fond of asking, “How am I doin’?” Our current Chancellor asks and answers. From the five boroughs to Washington DC, to Australia, the chancellor has pumped up his “model” of urban schools.
However, he has skipped over a little point: Does it work?
The system is opaque rather than transparent and we lack any no arms length assessments and/or evaluations.
For example, are the Leadership Academy and New Leaders for New Schools cost effective, and do the graduates produce better results than principals following the customary path?
ARIS is a powerful tool, but, is the $85 million cost of the ARIS “reasonable”? and, has it delivered all that the contract proposed? Why isn’t it fully operational? Are their any penalties in the contract?
The legislature is the custodian of public monies and has the responsibility to track and audit the use of these funds. The Department argues that it is not a State agency and the State has no audit responsibility. The amended mayoral governance law should correct this oversight.
Recommendation: The New York State Comptroller should have the express responsibility of auditing the Department of Education, both public and private funds, and, report regularly on the use, effectiveness and efficacy of spending.
The accountability issue is even more troubling.
The Department spins out press release after press release, the Chancellor hops around the country, actually, the world, conference after conference, pieces in newspapers and magazines from coast to coast. From conservative columnists and radical activists, from Al Sharpton to Geoffrey Canada, from the Wall Street Journal to the Education Equality Project. The Children’s First initiative is the torch, leading the path to urban reform.
School level accountability (School Progress Reports + Quality Reviews), school closings/school creation, Fair Student Funding (FSF), Open Market Transfers, ATR Pool, Bonus Pay, Individual Teacher Data Reports, “thin” management, sophisticated technology, data-driven decision-making (ARIS), school inquiry teams … a package of innovations that have significantly raised student achievement … or have they?
The Research Alliance for Public Schools, housed at NYU jumped off with a major press conference, but, with Klein and Weingarten on the Board, will it produce any meaningful research?
The Center for NYC Affairs, at the Milano School/New School University produced a fascinating look at student attendance patterns …
Is anyone looking at the impact of “credit recovery” programs on graduation rates and School Progress Report grades?
Do small high schools have better achievement data than large high schools? and, if so, why? How do the entering classes of small high schools compare with the entering classes in large high schools?
70% of all NYC schools receive School Progress Report Grades of “A” or “B,” yet many hundreds of NYC schools are either SINI, Corrective Action or SURR? Why the disparity?
Recommendation: The State Education Department, in conjunction with the NYS Comptroller, should audit education progress within New York City, i.e., “credit recovery,” impact of Fair Student Funding, teacher mobility, Regents/ELA/Math test administration, etc. The State should conduct regular “curriculum audits” and investigate accusations of rule/regulation/statute non-compliance.
Sol Stern has been a lonely voice, crying for transparency within the Department.
On Thursday, January 29th the first public hearing of the NYS Assembly Education Committee will listen to the range of comments.
Rumors on the web of the long awaited UFT position paper coming before the union Delegate Assembly on February 3rd, and, you can follow the hearings from the Bloomberg/Klein perspective at the Albany Project.
Lets the games begin …