2010-08-27 / Columnists

The Rockaway Beat

Parents Now Know That Bloomberg Has Lied About Educational Success Story
Commentary By Howard Schwach

The parents of New York City have had it with Mayor Michael Bloomberg and Schools Chancellor Joel Klein.

They are mad and they aren’t going to take it any more.

They proved that last week when they drove Klein and the mayor’s handpicked Panel for Educational Policy (PEP) from the room by asking legitimate questions about dropping test scores and what they mean.

The problem is Bloomberg and Klein keep saying that the recent standardized test results show that city students are clearly doing better than they were doing when Bloomberg took office eight years ago, when they are clearly doing no better at all.

In fact, real education, the kind where kids learn about their government and the world around them, where they are prepared to go out and become productive citizens disappeared years ago in an attempt to win political capital and federal dollars by giving the appearance that things were improving greatly.

Look at us, Bloomberg and Klein crowed year after year.

Test scores are up. High school graduation rates are up.

Charter schools are much better than the public schools.

Large high schools, which show that they are failing because their test scores are low, have to be closed for the sake of the students.

Small high schools are much better because their test scores are better than the traditional high schools.

All of those are lies, supported by gun-decked standardized tests and graduation requirements.

The truth is ugly, but true nevertheless.

Test scores were up not because the kids were reading or doing math better, but because the state continually lowered the cut score – the number of right answers necessary to reach Level 3 – the level that showed “proficiency” in the subject. This year, when they raised the cut score to what it was six years ago, the scores dropped precipitously.

High school graduation rates are up for basically the same reason. The state dropped the cut score on the Regents exams and they made them much easier. Just a few weeks ago, school staff told the story of how students who had not attended class all year were allowed to graduate by taking one computerized health education test. And, they were left alone to Google the answers in order to pass the test.

The fact is that charter schools achieved a 43 percent proficiency rating in reading, down from 77 percent last year.

Traditional schools fell to 42 percent from 69 percent over the same period of time. Tell me how, they, the charter schools – with their free school buildings and extra resources – are doing better than the public schools.

Now that there is proof that Bloomberg and Klein have been cooking the books for years, how can anybody back using those phony scores to close schools, grant tenure, pay teachers and supervisors?

Over the past four years, hundreds of teachers and supervisors have received bonus checks based on the rise of reading and math scores in their schools. Now, we know that there was no rise in reading and math scores in their schools. Will they have to give back the bonus money?

Will the mayor and the chancellor apologize to the parents for lying to them all these years?

Will the major daily newspapers ever understand what has happened and stop saying that the gains in test scores were real, when they were not?

Was there collusion between Bloomberg and the Board of Regents (including our own Geraldine Chapey, the elder) to lower the cut scores to make the mayor and state education commissioner look better and to allow New York to get more money from the feds under the No Child Left Behind Act – the federal law that started all this testing foolishness in the first place?

I would bet that there was collusion between the city and the state, but I could never prove it and the daily papers have no desire to show that it is true. They are too invested in the mayor and his big bucks, Manhattancentric style of government.

Another of the Bloomberg bubbles that was burst was the lie that New York City had substantially removed the test score gap between whites and Asians in relation to blacks and Latinos.

That was also a lie.

Two years ago, Bloomberg and Klein testified before Congress about the city’s impressive progress in closing that gulf.

The gains they testified about were historic, all but unheard of in recent years.

“Over the past six years, we’ve done everything possible to narrow the achievement gap,” Bloomberg testified. “In some cases, we have reduced [the gap] by half.”

Lies, all lies.

When the results of the 2010 tests came out recently, tests that the state says, “presented a more accurate picture of student abilities,” they came as a blow to the mayor and the chancellor and the mayor’s desire to leave office as the “education mayor” who changed the system.

Among the students in the third to eighth grade who took the test, 40 percent of the black students and 46 percent of Hispanic students were “proficient,” compared with 75 percent of white students and a whopping 82 percent of Asian students.

The ability gap lives, despite the boasts of the mayor and the chancellor.

Why did the parents drive Klein and the education panel from the room?

Because they know that they have been lied to for the past eight years and they are mad as hell about that fact.

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