Analysis: City Hall Fails the School Test

Bloomberg said 10 years ago we should blame him if mayoral control wasn't a success.

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    NEWSLETTERS

    For 10 years Mayor Bloomberg and his aides have been playing a numbers game with the people of New York.

    When he took over the school system, things were to be magically transformed.

    Social promotion would be eliminated. Test scores would go up. High school graduation rates would go up. The 1.1 million schoolchildren would be in a better place.

    Well, it hasn’t happened. Indeed, the New York Post reports, nearly eight of 10 city high school graduates who enrolled in one of CUNY’s community colleges were required to take special courses in math, reading and writing before being permitted to take college level work. Educational authorities call these courses “remediation,” but clearly, it shows these young graduates were not ready for college.

    Again and again, it’s been shown the test scores being used are deeply flawed. Many principals and teachers, to prove they are doing the job, have taught to the test -- seeking to improve the scores of the children for whom they are responsible.

    Perhaps it’s understandable that Mayor Bloomberg, who made his fortune with machines that dispense data, believes education can be measured in numbers. And now that it’s clear centralizing education at City Hall hasn’t worked, he seems determined to find a scapegoat.

    He has turned his wrath on the teachers union. But who has been in charge these last 10 years? Bloomberg himself is the culprit. Once, at the beginning of his control of the schools, he told us if this change didn’t work, we could blame him. Well, he doesn’t appear willing to take the blame. Maybe he needs some remediation.

    A parent leader, Leonie Haimson, told me: “Of the 10 largest cities in America, New York, according to federal figures, is 9th in educational achievement since 2003. Only Cleveland did worse. The ranking is measured by the NAEP, the national assessment carried out every two years by the federal government in fourth- and eighth-grade English and math.“

    Haimson is the leader of an advocacy group called Class Size Matters.

    About mayoral control, Haimson said: “Clearly it’s been no panacea. Both Cleveland and New York have mayoral control. It’s totally bogus. Bloomberg, in picking on the teachers, is desperately looking for a scapegoat. With just two years left in his term, he has to realize our kids are farther behind.”

    These are the statistics City Hall doesn’t cite.

    It’s the test City Hall has failed.