February 20, 2013

Questions the public school smashers can't answer

Marc Epstein, Huffington Post - An NYU study tracked a student cohort numbering 86,000 that entered the first grade in 1995. It found that less than 40 percent remained in the system after eight years! How will the progress of these students be measured? Who will be rewarded for the unmeasurable progress? Who will be blamed?

Combine these numbers with the outflow New York is experiencing and you realize that the exodus can't simply be blamed on poor public schools when people are leaving the state altogether, not just switching to private and parochial education.

We know this to be true because the Archdiocese of New York announced that it would be closing 27 schools in June.

As it stands now, 50 percent of the teachers who are hired in any given year leave the system voluntarily by their fifth year of teaching. So why are the generals in the Gates Reform Army so energized about holding on to the youngest teachers when half of them will be gone before you know it? Just what will a fabulously expensive tracking system track if neither teachers nor students remain in the system after a few years?

Then there's the testing conundrum. Now that the unions, seniority and tenure have been dispensed with, what are we going to do about the testing system that will tell us which teachers are worth retaining?

In New York, the Regents have admitted the tests they've been administering aren't a valid measurement of student progress, and because of costs, they want to eliminate high school Regents exams in some subject areas instead of expanding them. So what are we going to do about high school teachers who don't teach a Regents course?

How will we judge art, music and physical education teachers? For that matter, how will we measure teachers of languages like German, Hebrew and Latin? If a child enters a gym class overweight and doesn't lose a designated amount will the teacher be held responsible? What skills do we expect art and music teachers to impart so that we can determine if they should be terminated?

Now imagine that the number of students enrolled in charter schools grows to about one half of the NYC school system. Who is going to be inspecting these schools to ensure that monies are properly spent, crimes and abuses are reported to the appropriate authorities, and that an excellent teacher isn't fired because a capricious principal doesn't find the teacher appealing?

In short, how do you finance and maintain a bureaucracy that actually has to deal with the nuts and bolts of educating hundreds of thousands of kids when everyone is on their own?

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