Next to the economy and jobs --- it's the most important issue facing the people of New York this year.
Yet neither of the major candidates has confronted the question -- or tried to address the voters’ concerns.
I'm talking about education -- and the test scores that have become the magic bullet for education reform. Evidence is accumulating that the test score method for evaluating teachers and pupils is an intellectual fraud -- a fraud on the kids and their parents, and the teachers too.
But it’s the stealth issue of 2010. It’s out there, a hot potato, it seems, that no one wants to touch.
Education expert Diane Ravitch says the insistence of officials like Mayor Bloomberg and Schools Chancellor Joel Klein to rely on scores to evaluate teachers, children and schools has led us into "a swamp."
The scores, she says, "hang over people’s lives, making them incapable of fully acting in their role as educators. The scores are meaningless because you are pushing people to ignore everything but reading and math, including the arts, sciences, history, geography, even physical education. Even bonuses depend on how well the kids do on the math and reading tests."
Both Albany and the City Department of Education embraced this method of evaluating children, their schools, teachers and principals. It’s become a national practice too.
But, as the New York Times reports, "the state tests, which formed the basis of almost every school reform effort of the past decade, had serious flaws."
Professor Howard T. Everson of the City University says it’s hard to tell what the rising scores really meant. "Teachers began to know what was going to be on the tests. Then you have to wonder and folks like me wonder, is that real learning or not?"
It’s a solid issue---but, if you expect to see a flood of commercials on this subject---don’t hold your breath.
This may be too serious a matter, especially for parents, to be confronted head-on by the major candidates.
We have become a civilization that tries to turn children into numbers---their test scores. But realeducation demands much more than that.