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Sunday, October 25, 2009


Andrew Wolf makes an excellent point in his article "Flat Earth Society" below:

"If the children of New York State, and those here in the city, are to get the education they deserve — and NAEP tells us they are not getting it — we need real reform, not smoke and mirrors. For if the earth is as flat as the Daily News says, we are currently sailing for the edge."

It is time to add up the facts:

(1) Joel Klein has no contract, in violation of Education Law 2590-h:

"* § 2590-h. Powers and duties of chancellor. The office of chancellor of the city district is hereby continued. Such chancellor shall serve at the pleasure of and be employed by the mayor of the city of New York by contract. The length of such contract shall not exceed by more than two years the term of office of the mayor authorizing such contract. The chancellor shall receive a salary to be fixed by the mayor within the budgetary allocation therefor. He or she shall exercise all his or her powers and duties in a manner not inconsistent with the city-wide educational policies of the city board..."

Additionally, the Panel For Educational Policy is not a legal entity, has no administrative or executive function, and it's members are merely actors in the citywide denial of public access to information and/or the refusal to honor procedural due process for children, parents, and employees of the New York City Board of Education.

(2) Joel Klein's people terrorize anyone who validly makes a claim against him or against the organization he manages, the New York City Board of Education, Inc.; anyone who asks questions that are not constitutionally damaging to Mr. Klein and/or the Organization are simply pushed aside, ignored, or made fun of, and all others with claims against the regime are bought off or given favors that cannot be refused;

(3) in order to satisfy the mandate to show improved scores in every classroom, Principals change grades constantly, or alter tests, and order their staff to do the same, leaving the children in their schools far behind...Social promotion still exists, only now it is micro-managed;

(4) Joel Klein and Mike Bloomberg designed a process of taking revenge on troublemakers whereby anyone - staff, teacher, custodian, outside consultant, parent, child - can be made guilty of a crime and arrested without a crime taking place, and there is nothing that the victim can do to prevent this from happening;

(5) the victims of the false claims can only clear their names if they have the money and can spend the time to rally people and resources sufficient to make a strong defense against the lies about them that the Organization made up;

(6) the NYC major media (NY Daily News, NY POST, New York Times, Wall Street Journal, ABC TV, NBC, CBS, NY1, to name a few) has been "convinced" that to write anything but praise for the excellent job the Klein/Bloomberg administration has done and will continue to do is financial suicide.

I could go on and on, but what we New Yorkers must do is say NO to this scullduggery and vote William Thompson in as Mayor of the City of New York on November 3, 2009.

I know the earth is round.

Betsy Combier

Flat Earth Society
By ANDREW WOLF, NY SUN, October 24, 2009

No sooner did the Daily News lambast critics of Mayor Bloomberg’s educational program as “flat earth” adherents than the federal NAEP math test released its results, which undermine the mayor’s claims for academic improvements on his watch.

It seems that New York’s NAEP scores have been stagnating, despite the fact that scores on the state tests, on which the mayor bases his claims, have been soaring. It’s surprising to see the editors of the New York’s Picture Newspaper miss this frame of reference, as they did, in an editorial on Sunday October 18.

They opine that the NAEP results are for the state, not the city. Aside from the fact that the city makes up a big part of the state, they miss one critical point. The disparity between the state test results and NAEP is so wide as to cast doubt on the state testing program in every corner of the Empire State from Buffalo to Montauk as well as in our five boroughs.

To base any evaluation of our schools on bogus testing — and even pay bonuses (with your tax dollars) on the basis of the state scores — is nonsensical. The education expert Diane Ravitch (pictured at right) suggests that the new leadership at the State Education Department fire those responsible. I would urge a full investigation of who knew what and when about the creation and management of the state testing program, which has millions of young victims.

The NAEP results are certainly bad news for the Bloomberg campaign. If the state scores are bogus, now increasingly accepted as fact, then the Bloomberg education legend is exposed as mythology.

Christopher Cerf, the former deputy chancellor at the Department of Education, was furiously spinning this disastrous news in his new temporary post working in the Bloomberg reelection effort. Mr. Cerf, according to the New York Times, “said that when the New York City numbers become public, they could show that city students outperformed their peers in the rest of the state.” The Gray Lady quoted him as saying: “It would be impossible to draw any conclusions about New York City’s progress at this point.”

Mr. Cerf has a history in spinning NAEP results, which have never been particularly kind to Tweed. Last year, replying to Sol Stern in an online debate published on the blog Eduwonk, Mr. Cerf proclaimed, “While the NAEP is important evidence of progress, it is not ‘high stakes,’ not based on state standards, and given to a comparatively small sample. At minimum, the significance of the NAEP needs to be considered in the larger context of state tests, which are high-stakes and are taken by all.”

Parent activist Leonie Haimson pointed out in a comment on Mr. Cerf’s posting at the time that the fact that the NAEP is not “high stakes” makes the results all the more reliable.

Mr. Cerf was merely reprising the comments of the former state education commissioner, Richard Mills, which I reported in the New York Sun nearly two years ago on December, 21, 2007. “Given that NAEP and state tests, as well as the related standards, are prepared separately, it's inevitable that national and state results will be different. In some states the difference is large, while it's small in others. This presents an obvious question for the public and policy makers: which results are correct?"

I went on to state that “Mr. Mills believes that the lower standards exhibited by the New York state/NAEP gap, among the widest gaps in the nation, are more accurate and goes on to give a list of reasons. These include the remarkable claim that ‘teachers and students perceive that stakes are high for performance on the New York tests and students are encouraged to do their best. There are no consequences to a school or a student from NAEP.’”

Given the similarity in the points of view of Messrs. Mills and Cerf, it might well be appropriate to thank those Regents who rebuffed the effort to make Mr. Cerf state education commissioner. Surely the pupils in the state are better off with Commissioner David Steiner’s commitment to high standards and real reform.

If the children of New York State, and those here in the city, are to get the education they deserve — and NAEP tells us they are not getting it — we need real reform, not smoke and mirrors. For if the earth is as flat as the Daily News says, we are currently sailing for the edge.

City kids are upward bound: New data document major education gains in five boroughs
Editorials, NY Daily News, October 14th 2009, 4:00 AM

You would be better off arguing that the world is flat, or that the sun revolves around the Earth, than to dispute that New York City kids are performing better and better in school.

There are those who have refused to believe this fact. They have persistently challenged reading and math tests as meaningless or as dumbed down or as soul-deadening hokum. And they charge that rising high school graduation rates are suspect.

Well, now there is fresh and incontrovertible data that match how well the city's kids are performing with how well their peers from around the state are performing. The comparison is so simple, it's a wonder no one has done it before:

Take the hard standardized tests scores of every schoolkid in New York, average the scores by county and district and rank them by county and district. Then track what happens to the rankings over a period of years.

Back in 2002, the five boroughs were clustered at the very bottom among the state's 62 counties. In fact, the city occupied five of the last six spots. But starting in 2005, after several years of inching upward, city kids started climbing the ranks.

This year, Queens is No. 15 out of 62 - within 11 points of counties with wealthy districts, like Nassau (No. 1), Westchester (No. 4) and Rockland (No. 6).

Staten Island ranks 24th. Manhattan, which was No. 59 last year, is now 50th. Brooklyn rose from 61st last year to No. 56.

Only the Bronx, the state's most disadvantaged county, has remained stable, at the bottom of the list. But even there, scores have risen steadily.

In fact, the only counties in all of New York where test scores have increased from 2002 to 2009 are the five boroughs. Everywhere else, scores have declined.

The quality of schooling is a preeminently fit subject for debate in this mayoral election year. It is time for Mayor Bloomberg to answer to the voters on whether he has fulfilled his promise to be the city's "education mayor."

These numbers offer indisputable evidence that he and Chancellor Joel Klein have worked a sea change in the nation's largest school system. While there is still a long way to go - and while standards must be further toughened - the city's kids are making bigger strides than children anywhere else in New York State. Wow.