NYC administration has been accused of inflating their scores and having a positive outlook on school data. In a recent post, only 1 in 4 high school students are ready for college. That is a 75% failure rate, and somehow NYC administration (not the department of education) feel as though that is acceptable. Many accuse this low performance on the NYC administration doing such terrible education reform.
New Yorkers have been hit with a blizzard of education statistics lately, but there are two sets that really matter: First, about 65 percent of New York City high-school students graduate in four years, and 64 percent of high schools carry grades of either A or B.
The second set is this: Only about 21 percent of students are ready for college work after four years, while 75 percent of those who go to city community colleges need remediation in one or more core subjects.
The differences between the first and second set of stats are glaring in an absolute sense, but also for another reason: The “good” numbers are the city’s own assessments, and the “bad” numbers are the assessments of educators outside Mayor Bloomberg’s control.
The sense that City Hall always looks at its results through rose-colored glasses is well established. It is only when others measure student achievement that a more credible picture emerges.
A backroom battle between the city and others over test scores and grad rates has marked most of the Bloomberg years, but the public mostly saw one side. Through his first two terms, the mayor used his soapbox and checking account to claim historic accomplishments, some bordering on miracles, with his view contested by only a few voices.
But the public perception changed in the last two years, starting in the summer of 2010. After state officials made tests less predictable and modestly harder, city results plummeted. In a single day, nearly four years of “gains” were wiped out.
Only 54 percent of third- through eighth-graders passed 2010 math tests, down from 82 percent, a decline of 28 points. Reading scores dropped 27 points, from 69 percent to 42 percent.
The earlier results were a bubble that, like all bubbles, were too good to be true, and most New Yorkers have figured out the scam. Yet City Hall remains largely in denial about the lessons of those lost years.
When scores inched back up this year, the mayor once again popped the champagne and threw himself a celebration. “All of our students, teachers and principals should be very proud,” he said, because city scores were better than Yonkers, Rochester and Buffalo.
The puffery comes with a price, for it sends the message that mediocre is good enough. It extends to the graduation rates as well. Amid the high rates of remediation and growing reports, including some on this page, that principals order grade changes so failing students can graduate, City Hall expresses little regret over unqualified students getting diplomas.
Indeed, the mayor sounds as though he believes any diploma is a good thing, no matter how it was achieved. “Number 1, having a high-school diploma really is a very big deal,” he said Monday. “You can’t join the military, you can’t work for most city agencies” without it.
No doubt that’s true, and the unspoken rest of the mayor’s argument is that a job is the entrance ticket to a stable and satisfying life.
Yet if his defense is taken to its logical conclusion, school can be reduced to a matter of time served. And teachers already say that too many students have figured that out. Kids know that if they just stick around for 12 years, the system will, by hook or crook, give them a piece of paper that says they’re educated.
It’s only when students meet the real world that they realize how little they actually know. Because nobody let them fail in school, they were cheated out of the chance to grow and truly succeed.
The mayor doesn’t openly endorse that approach, of course, but neither has he confronted the full truth about student achievement on his watch. Unless he does, he will leave office far short of his goal of being the “education mayor.”
Under the definition that a cynic is a premature realist, I nominate myself with the following theory: It’s no accident or coincidence that Joe Biden is acting like such a jerk lately, and Hillary Rodham Clinton is playing the good soldier. They are trying out for new jobs — each other’s.
Clinton could replace the foot-in-mouth vice president as President Obama’s running mate, and Biden could replace her as secretary of state.
I’m aware that the White House already has shot down the idea, and perhaps honestly so. Since it’s early in the campaign and Obama hasn’t given final approval, there is no deal.
Yet the switch makes such perfect sense that White House handlers likely will be forced to give it serious consideration next year, if they haven’t already. Absent an economic miracle or the gift of a Republican opponent who can’t attract independent voters, Obama looks to be headed for defeat in 2012. His divisive populism isn’t moving the needle, and he’s running out of options and time.
The key fact is that he pulls only one in three independents, and that means he will have trouble winning enough swing states to get a majority of 270 electoral votes. Running up the score in deep-blue states like New York and California won’t matter if he can’t win in places like Michigan, Ohio, Wisconsin and Pennsylvania. All four of those states elected GOP governors last year.
Biden adds nothing to the ticket, and his erratic bluster makes him a liability. Clinton would be a shot in the arm for the campaign among women, and holds appeal to the blue-collar workers in the industrial states Obama needs.
So remember my theory the next time Biden says something stupid — which will be the next time he opens his mouth. And remember it the next time Clinton goes on TV to enthusiastically praise Obama for “smart leadership,” as she did Sunday.
Plug Leaks for good
There is good news: WikiLeaks is on the verge of going out of business, The Wall Street Journal reports. Thanks to restrictions imposed by Visa, MasterCard, PayPal and Bank of America, the anti-American Web site can’t get donations from supporters.
Julian Assange, the anarchist founder, accuses the companies of erecting a “financial blockade” at the urging of Washington. The companies deny it, with one saying its policies prohibit any use of its services for illegal activities. Because it dealt in stolen American military secrets, WikiLeaks would seem to have crossed that line.
Whatever the reason, good riddance.
City going for broke
Here’s the chief reason the city is facing an ocean of deficits. The Citizens Budget Commission reports that Gotham spends 64 cents on employees’ pensions and fringe benefits for every $1 it spends on salary and wages. Yikes.