Posts Tagged ‘Mayor Bloomberg’

Mayor Bloomberg on Class Size: Let Them Eat Cake

Tuesday, August 18th, 2009

marie_antoinette_a_la_rose_1783_oil_on_canvas.JPG

“If you’re going to spend an extra dollar, personally, I would always rather spend it on the people that deliver the service,” Mr. Bloomberg said when asked about the report on Thursday, calling class size “an interesting number.”

“It’s the teacher looking a child in the eye, and teachers can look lots of children in the eye,” he added. “If you have to have smaller class size or better teachers, go with the better teachers every time.”

So says New York’s Mayor Bloomberg, and maybe that would be true in a vacuum, the kind where all  kids come ready to learn and without disabilities, but if you’re teaching, for example, autistic children, getting that eye contact becomes a lot harder as your numbers go up.

I want to be fair. I want to think that officials like Mayor Bloomberg have the best interest of our kids at heart, but there’s something so flip, so Marie Antoinette about saying that class size is “interesting.” Some studies say that class size doesn’t matter, some that it does, but isn’t it a bit cynical to suggest, as an expert does in this February 09 article, that parents only want smaller classes because they can’t appreciate the less obvious benefits of superior teaching? Parents, are there any of those among us who don’t worry about the quality of our children’s teachers? And parents, in lieu of definitive information for or against smaller classes, shouldn’t the government err on the side of caution and place our kids in classes where there is less noise, more space, and more humane conditions in which to learn? Wouldn’t we all love to send our children to the Sidwell School where the Obama children go. According to its web site:

All classes (in the lower school), with the exception of one third grade class and one fourth grade class, have team teachers. Individual class sizes range from one teacher for every ten students in the lower grades to one teacher for every sixteen students in some fourth grade classes.

Why does this esteemed institution, school to the children of presidents, value smaller class size? Are its parents misinformed too? And why, as Mayor Bloomberg suggests, does there have to be a tradeoff between smaller class size and better teachers? If it’s money that separates us from smaller class size (and of course it is), politicians should simply say so. Otherwise give us our cake and let us eat it too.

Focus, Focus

Thursday, May 28th, 2009

1074387512jpg

Okay.  I will.  Right after this post, which has nothing to do with California, fatherhood or autism, the alleged subjects of this blog.  Just had to share this tome-like post by John Lawhead about the charterization of NYC:

Leonie Haimson, a parent and school advocate, writing on the New York City Public School Parents blog, wrote that the Tweed strategy seemed like an effort to “create such incompetent, dysfunctional government that the public will no longer support the notion that the government can provide useful public services, leading to further privatization and the undermining of the whole notion of the public good.” Teachers who never wanted to be part of any lousy schools wonder, who wins from the closings and reorganizations? Concerned about “failing” schools? Poverty schools are like the overmedicated patient that eventually needs a different pill for every function. How will the dizzy, disordered, hysterical, somnolent, depressed school ever get “fixed” when it is such a lucrative prospect for the education companies? Profits are predicated on students and teachers’ lack of control over the institutions where they work and learn. How many of the products, the packaged teacher-proof lessons, the training and consulting, interim assessments would be exposed as unnecessary if school communities could find a way to use their own judgment and solve their own problems?

Being Cute

Monday, May 11th, 2009

And yet another article in another mainstream media outlet that dares to dig. Bow down to Juan Gonzalez’s expose of what New York’s Michael Bloomberg isn’t saying about inflated test scores in New York City public and charter schools…

A review of 2007-2008 state report cards for the charter schools reveals that students who are still learning English rarely get admitted.

Those students comprise 14% of overall public school enrollment, but they are less than 4% of the charter school population.

Meanwhile, the poorest children in the school system, those who qualify for the federal government’s free lunch program, made up 65% of the citywide school population last year, yet they were only 57% of charter school enrollment.

That gap becomes even more glaring when you realize that charter schools are concentrated in the city’s poorest neighborhoods, Harlem, the South Bronx and central Brooklyn, where even higher numbers of students qualify for free lunch.

Then there’s the disparity in special education enrollments. Last year, a review by city Controller Bill Thompson found less than 5% special education students in charter schools – far below the 15% citywide.

In other words, if you have language problems, if you’re poor, or if you have special needs, you’re far more likely to end up in the regular public school population than in a charter school.