2004-03-26 / Editorial/Opinion

An ‘F’ For Working And Playing Well With Others

An ‘F’ For Working And Playing Well With Others

We don’t believe that there are many people who are opposed to doing away with social promotion in our schools, although we have met some who argue that holding children back a grade gravely wounds their "self-esteem" and it is therefore a bad policy. Most, however, would agree with us that the policy that moves children along from one grade to another even if they have failed to earn that promotion is an abject failure. Having said that, we do not agree with Mayor Bloomberg’s home-grown "Sunday Night Massacre" in which he forced the firing of three members of the Education Policy Board who did not agree with his point of view. The Mayor has said repeatedly that he wants to be held responsible for the success or failure of the school system. That is good. What is not good is that he believes that accountability equals the right to have his own way and to get rid of anybody who doesn’t agree. "My way, or the highway" might work in the business world, but education is supposed to be more collegial than that. Those who disagreed with Bloomberg did so by degree. They wanted more time to work out a plan that would assist those left back to make the grade the following year, perhaps a "conditional fourth grade" program. The Mayor would have none of it. A month ago, we wrote that Bloom berg’s plan to hold back third graders who could not read had more to do with the mayoral election that with education. The media has picked up on the theme – Bloomberg holds back third graders who are not therefore eligible for next year’s fourth grade test. With so many poor readers out of the mix, the fourth grade scores rise dramatically, proving once and for all that Bloomberg’s policy is a success. You don’t have to be jaded to believe that is a possibility. All in all, we have to give Bloomberg a "gentlemen’s C" for his attempt at reforming the system and an "F" for working and playing well with others.

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