2010-10-15 / Columnists

School Scope

NY Times Gets Louis Renault ‘Shocked, Shocked’ Award
Commentary By Norman Scott

Inspector Renault was shocked that there was gambling at Ricks, just as Bloomberg was shocked at the recent reading scores. Inspector Renault was shocked that there was gambling at Ricks, just as Bloomberg was shocked at the recent reading scores. The October 11 NY Times front page story on the testing score fiasco in NY City and State led me to take a look at the famous Claude Rains clip in Casablanca where his character, Louis Renault, is “shocked, shocked” to find there’s gambling going on at Rick’s place – while collecting his winnings just as Bloomberg collected his winnings – a third term as Mayor – based on phony test results.

The story was titled, “On New York School Tests, Warning Signs Ignored,” ironic since it was the Times that did so much ignoring of the warning signs from teachers, parents and other commentators. Parent activist and leader of Class Size Matters, Leonie Haimson, even published letters she had sent to the paper regarding their distorted reporting favoring Bloom /Klein on the issue. Haimson commented on her NYC Public School Parent blog:

“Anyone who was paying attention knew at least as far back as 2007 that there was rampant test score inflation ... The article also offers a rather irrelevant story, relating how Joel Klein earnestly tried to convince the state to change its scoring system to use a value added method instead, as though that would have addressed any of the problems regarding the score inflation ... The Times itself had plenty of reason to know about concerns about the state test score inflation throughout this period but not only failed to report on it, but generally toed the company line.”

For those not familiar with the term “value-added,“ that is the method being pushed like a magic drug to cure all educational ills by trying to measure how “effective” individual teachers are based on the test scores of students over time.

VA has been attacked as a faulty system due to the number of variations that creep into the testing process – the background of the students, the nature of the particular class, etc. And then there is all that cheating on so many levels, especially at the top where they play with the cut scores – one year 5 out of 10 correct passes, the next 3 out of 10.

State Regent head Merryl Tisch – whose educational expertise is based on having taught pre-k Hebrew school briefly – certainly was shocked, shocked. Leonie wasn’t buying any of it: The article also gives Regent Merryl Tisch a pass, letting her have the last word, saying “We came in here saying we have to stop lying to our kids,” without mentioning that throughout the test score inflation period, she was Deputy Chancellor of the Regents, and yet reliably supported Bloomberg and Klein’s claims of great improvement.

Our own former Region 5 Superintendent Kathleen Cashin was also shocked, shocked and is quoted in the Times article.

As a superintendent in the Brownsville section of Brooklyn, Kathleen Cashin had seen several schools improve throughout the early part of the decade. But when she saw the sudden jump, she said, she was shocked. “I said to my intimate circle of staff, this cannot be possible,” Ms. Cashin recalled. “I knew how much effort and how much planning any little improvement would take, and not all of these schools had done any of it.” But Ms. Cashin, who retired in February, held her tongue at the time. Asked why she did not take up her concerns with Mr. Klein or his deputies, she said, “I didn’t have their ear.”

I know, I know, all you Region 5ers out there – and former District 23ers from pre-Klein days – are shocked, shocked at Renault’s – er – Cashin’s being shocked, shocked.

She also collected her winnings based on test scores in rising almost to the top of the BloomKlein phony ed house of cards.

There were even rumors that she might one day replace Klein.

Then she was cast aside because she had a semblance of ed credentials, which when it happened just shocked, shocked me.

Rhee in DC Resigns

Teachers all over the nation weren’t shocked, shocked but were cheering the resignation of Michelle Rhee, Superintendent of schools in Washington DC. Rhee came out of the Joel Klein School of running public school systems into oblivion, but with an even more vicious snarl.

Everyone understands she was the cause of Mayor Fenty’s loss in the DC primary.

Her famous Time magazine cover photo holding a broom now has true meaning as she flies out of town on Halloween. One blog commented:

The recent defeat of DC mayor Adrian Fenty spells the end to the damaging career of dilettante school reformer, Michele Rhee, originally recommended to Fenty by Joel Klein, a close friend of Bill Gates and Eli Broad and described by people experienced in the teaching profession as edubusiness entrepreneurs’ attack dog. Lacking any discernible qualifications, her shocking appointment, can be understood only when you realize that Rhee was brought in to inflict maximum damage on the district’s public schools. And as a cultist (Teach For America, New Teacher Project) and true believer she came at a bargain basement salary. Real superintendents were courted (Fenty visited Miami with several members of the D.C. commission to interview Dr. Rudolph Crew) but those candidates could not be counted on to mindlessly take a club to D.C.’s public schools. The havoc and disruption that Rhee has caused was no accident. It was the plan!

Well, I’m off on my own broom – to see the Rockaway Cafe at the Rockaway Theatre Company’s Halloween extravaganza this weekend and the following two weekends. Then off to rehearsals for the December production of The Odd Couple in which I’ll be making my acting debut. I was shocked, shocked that such a professionally operated theater company with access to immense talent would give a role to a rank amateur.

When Norm is not flying around on his broom he blogs at http://ednotesonline. blogs

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