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Stapling NY Times Ed Deformer Brent Staples

Susan Notes:

Ohanian Note: I put this in good news because parents, at least, are speaking out and labeling the New York Times editorial for what it is. Thanks to Norm Scott for collecting these comments at Education Notes Online.

The New York Times did not allow online comments to the Editorial.

Also see As Parents Protest, Chancellor and Panel Leave.


Another disappointing Times editorial which shows that Brent Staples lives in a fantasy world, one concocted by Bloomberg and Co. Perhaps instead of saying "Parents Need to Know" he should figure out that he needs to know the truth.
--Leonie Haimson

Did Brent Staples read the front-page story in the New York Times on August 16, with the headline: Triumph Fades On Racial Gap in City Schools..."A Blow to Bloomberg"..."After Testing Threshold Is Reset, Latinos and Blacks Fall Back." Did he not read the statement by the statistician in the U.S. Department of Education's National Center for Education Statistics, who said that there had been no narrowing of the racial achievement gap? Guess not.
--Diane Ravitch

I spoke to Brent Staples of the Times editorial the day after the meeting. He sought me out. I explained that people just wanted to speak on the issue that there were already five public comment sessions, one each for every other item, that the bylaws allowed us to ask for a vote to open the floor, that waiting until the end of the meeting would have meant 2-3 hours, that the accountability office presentation was never on the agenda in the first place and should have been itself approved by a member vote and that even a vote on my motion was illegally denied. We needed to hear from parents who had been told for years their kids were doing well but now weren't and hear what they thought we should do to meet the needs of their kids. I never thought the PEP chair would act so deliberately to suppress the public voice.

Staples said the parents there "did children no favor". Well, I told my sons the next day that the moms who picked up a bullhorn struck a blow for freedom and for the right of every public school family to be heard and that I was grateful to them for their support.

Perhaps we should just get used to the fact that the wealthy publishers of old media are inextricably bound to the mayor and chancellor and will support him regardless of what law or rules he violates.
--Patrick Sullivan

New York Times
Parents Need to Know

Parents in New York City are understandably worried about the performance of students on this year's state math and reading tests. But an angry, jeering community group, equipped with a bullhorn, did children no favor when it disrupted a meeting this week where city education officials tried to calm fears about the new approach to testing.

Mayor Michael Bloomberg and the schools chancellor, Joel Klein, must make it a priority to reach out to parents to explain why they -- rightly -- support more rigorous testing and what they are planning to do to ensure that more students can meet those standards.

The State Board of Regents released a study last month showing that the state math and reading tests were becoming easier by the year and that passing scores had been set too low. Instead of ducking the problem, the board recalibrated the scoring and announced that it would steadily broaden the areas of knowledge to be tested. The next step must be to strengthen the statewide curriculum so that students learn more and perform better on tougher tests.

The most recent results for New York City were undeniably disappointing. Under the new accounting, 42 percent of students passed the English test, down from 69 percent in 2009. More than 63,000 students in third through eighth grades failed the English test; that was five times as many as in 2009. The pass rate for math fell from 82 percent to 54 percent.

Some of Mr. Bloomberg's critics have since tried to suggest that the city had deceived the public about the quality of the schools. The city did not oversee the tests; the state did. Weak state tests are a chronic problem throughout the country -- one that education departments are only beginning to come to grips with.

The Bloomberg administration was right to support the decision to change the scoring as well as the need for a more rigorous testing regime. And officials acknowledge that they must work harder to ensure that New York City's students can meet the new standards.

City Hall also is right when it says that, despite the disappointing scores, the schools have made measurable progress in recent years: increasing graduation rates, sending more students to college and narrowing the performance gap between white and minority students.

City officials need to do more to reach out to parents and explain how the old testing system was shortchanging students, as well as what must now be done to get the schools on the path to success. Community groups need to play a constructive role in this process.

— Editorial, with New York city parents comments
New York Times



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