2009-03-13 / Letters

Retired Teacher Speaks Out

Dear Editor,

I taught in the New York City school system (grades 4, 5 and 6) for about 32 years. I am now retired.

I am writing this letter because I know you are of my generation and have an active interest in the Board of Education. Your frame of reference and experience seems very similar to my own.

Here goes. I feel that the NYC Board of Education is perpetrating a hoax on its citizens. I feel that in order to "raise" the reading and math scores, they have (1) watered down the tests (2) made the marking of some too subjective (3) generalized scores so as to group students too broadly (4) allowed administration of these tests to lend itself to "cheating."

When I was in the classroom, kids took a reading and math test yearly. They filled in the bubbles on a scantron. They were stringently timed. The answer documents were rushed off to the company where they were fed into a very unbiased scantron machine. Kids received their scores about one month later. The grades reflected a very specific score (eg. 5.6 performing at fifth grade six months). I am sure there was some cheating back then but there really wasn't much opportunity to do so.

Every time I see Joel Klein or Bloomberg smiling and congratulating themselves on our students progress, it makes my blood boil. You know, the first step to curing a problem is to admit there is a problem? It is disheartening to see the very top of the city's legislators jockeying to create a false impression of well being.

If you have dealt with this issue in your column, I guess I missed it. If so, accept this letter as an endorsement of your views (if you agree with me).

MARY O'LEARY

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