|In June, 2010, in a previous blog I quoted Justin Kruger and David Dunning,|
|When people are incompetent in the strategies they adopt to achieve success and satisfaction, they suffer a dual burden: not only do they reach erroneous conclusions and make unfortunate choices, but their incompetence robs them of the ability to realize it.Unfortunately nothing has changed.
The heart and core of the Department of Education is a school closing policy. The Office of Portfolio Development determines which schools to close based on performance and geography. Washington Irving is being closed because many new school developers would rather start schools in Manhattan than East New York or South Jamaica or the South Bronx.
The Department should be asking: Why are schools stumbling?
If we overlap schools by performance with a map of poverty by zip, guess what, schools in high poverty neighborhoods are struggling academically, and, not surprisingly, the Department is closing schools in poor neighborhoods of color.
The Department should have learned from the lessons of the Chancellor’s District, some schools require targeted external support and guidance. Instead the Department blindly follows a “let a thousand flowers bloom,” the principal as CEO, no matter how ill-suited, no matter how inept, principals are abandoned. The message is clear – do what you have to do: a “don’t ask, don’t tell” message from Tweed- as long as you stay off the pages of the media – improve scores. Period.
If you bother to talk with principals in Brownsville or East New York schools they will tell you it is difficult to attract and retain teachers.
How do you answer a teacher who asks: Is this neighborhood safe?
A principal announced that as of November 1 no teacher could remain in the building after 5 PM and as of December 1 no teacher could remain in the building after 4:30 PM.
The new, young teachers were outraged – they wanted to continue to tutor and work with kids and they accused the principal of caving in to the UFT.
The principal called a meeting: “You’re all totally dedicated, caring and white – when it’s dark you become prey. In this community male unemployment is probably 50% or higher. Gangs control the streets; those popping sounds are not firecrackers. I’m selfish – I need you. I don’t want to visit you in a hospital. I don’t want to attend your funeral”
The Department allows any teacher to transfer to any other school. The result is that schools in “undesirable” neighborhoods have troubling attracting and retaining staff.
In Bayside or Midtown Manhattan or Brooklyn Heights teachers stay and prosper – in high poverty, high crime neighborhoods teachers learn their craft and move on.
Yes, there are schools with staffs, school leaders and teachers who have the ability to innovate and create and succeed. For two all too brief years the Department supported an Autonomous Zone (25 schools in Year One and 50 in Year Two). Schools worked together, a collaborative network in which schools, school leaders and teachers had the space to create.
The Department loved the idea – and created Empowerment – with a ukase all schools were granted the authority to operate on a quasi independent status. Sixty networks support, but do not supervise schools. Principals can work closely with a network leader or do as they please – all that counts is the Progress Grade, and, we suspect, that scores may be inflated by “help.”
Credit recovery schemes are endemic – inflating graduation rates probably by significant numbers. Fred Smith’s article in the NY Post points to odd abnormalities on the grade 3-8 State tests.
The Mayor is in his own world, oblivious to the real world. The next election is two years off. Who will stand up for the kids and families?
The Board of Regents Chancellor Merryl Tisch and other Regents have been made some critical statements in regard to Department of Education policies – maybe, just maybe, the Regents will assert their authority and deny the school closing strategy and force the Department to confront the realities that school leaders and teachers face each and every day.
- Who is Responsible for the Demise of Mayoral Control? Eva
- Tick Tock: Mayoral Control Dangles by a Thread as the Legislature Enters Its Last Day: Can the Governor Be The Deal Maker?
- Mayoral Control and Charter Schools: Pawns on the Chessboard of Politics
- New York State Reduces Grades 3-8 Testing from Three to Two Days, and, We Learn: Test Creation is Complicated, and the Results – Relatively Meaningless.
- Saving Schools That Save Students: Alternative High Schools Are An Essential Element of School Districts
- Why Are the NYS Republicans Such Avid Supporters of Charter Schools? Think Walton Family Dollars: Boycott Walmart
- Why Do We Test Students? (Hint: Newton’s First Law of Motion) Maybe, Just Maybe, Aligned Curriculum and Instruction and School Leadership Are More Effective Approaches.
- “When Elephants Fight:” Will Political Bickering End Mayoral Control in New York City? Would NYC Return to a Politicized “Identity” Education Politics?
- Should the New York State Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA) Accountability Plan Punish Schools for High Rates of Chronic Absenteeism?
- The New York State ESSA Plan Released: Setting a New Path for Defining School Accountability or Recreating a Kinder “Test and Punish” Plan?