It's teacher hunting season!

Saturday, January 1, 2011

How Education Scandal is Handled in Atlanta -Contrasts for Teachable Moment

In Atlanta a major scandal brews in Atlanta: state, then federal investigators enter the scene. How this arises: concern appears over test score improvement patterns seem too good to be true. Sound familiar so far?
Read "Feds cast a wide net in Atlanta Public Schools cheating scandal," Dec. 26, 2010 in "The Atlanta Journal-Constitution" for the story.
Choose your particular issue on which to hang a scandal charge in New York City: there are the easy cases: the no-textbooks at home policy; the million dollar no-bid contracts --that persist in a fiscal crisis; there are the cases that a little harder to pursue, but that can be labeled scandalous: the minority neighborhood focused drive to shut down larger schools, eliminating the benefits of economies of scale (larger schools having more deans, more social workers, more guidance counselors, more psychologists, more speech therapists, more choices of foreign language, more Advanced Placement opportunities, more choices in after-school extra-curricular programs); the aggressive reducing the ranks of minority teachers, while increasing the ranks of white teachers; the aggressive reduction of the older teachers, while increasing the ranks of younger teachers (racism/ ageism charge anyone?); the city under former schools chancellor Joel Klein aggressively introduced disproven constructivist math programs Everyday Math and Impact Math, and in a corresponding period, real proficiency in math has remained poor (see the numbers of students entering CUNY needing remediation courses) --See this New York Sun article printed in the Queens Teacher blog. There are issues aplenty by which activists or progressive politicians can pursue the charge of scandal.
In Atlanta, the issue has been pursued aggressively by that city's only major daily, the Atlanta Journal-Constitution.
In New York, the daily newspapers have been either organs of the city (see New York Post and city-industry revolving door with latter paper's hiring of Klein) or have been in the back pocket of the mayor (see New York Times or Daily News)
In Atlanta, state-level politicians have opposed city-level politicians or holders of appointed office (see Georgia governor Sonny Perdue's opposing Atlanta schools superintendent Beverly Hall)
In New York, there is no opposition from any state-level politician to mayor Michael Bloomberg or his school chancellor. The lone cry is by New York City councilman Charles Barron; there is no coordination between Barron and other concerned city politicians.
Where is the flexing of muscle of audit power, investigation power or just plain bully-pulpit power that city Comptroller John Liu or Public Advocate Bill de Blasio could easily exert? (Early in 2010 Comptroller Liu told New Yorkers that he was auditing the city Department of Education: see "With an Eye on Education, Liu Takes a New Approach," Mar. 3, 2010 in "The New York Times." By the end of the year there was little public connecting of the dots of the scandals or near-scandals listed earlier in this blog post.)

Come on John and Bill! You want to make a big splash in education, in the lead-up to the contest to become the next mayor? Grab these scandals by the horns!

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