Monday, August 17, 2015


Today is a good day to turn the blog over to experts in education and criminal justice to see some real similarities in the two fields.

Leonie Haimson, leader of Class Size Matters, has a hard hitting piece in Gotham Gazette that blames both former Mayor Michael Bloomberg as well as the current Mayor Bill de Blasio for playing games with numbers to make the schools look good.  Leonie is quite clear in spreading criticism:

There’s been lots of news and commentary lately about fraudulent credit recovery schemes and grade fixing practices at city schools. The editors of the New York Post predictably want to pin the blame on Mayor de Blasio – with op-eds written by critics such as Senate Majority Leader Flanagan, who claim that these scandals are a good reason to question the extension of mayoral control of city schools.  

Truth is that these schemes spread like a virus first under Mayor Bloomberg – the result of pressure on schools to improve quickly or be closed, combined with a troubling lack of oversight to see that improvements were based on real learning and not gimmicks. Credit recovery was widespread, along with instructions from principals that teachers should pass 60 percent of their students “or else.”  

I have heard reports that the passing quota was supposed to be much higher than 60% but I think we get the point.

Leonie continues:

But even if this credit recovery and other artificial methods of juking the stats took hold during the Bloomberg years, the de Blasio administration cannot be let off the hook for allowing them to continue.

Leonie then offers a solution.  She points out how the so called Renewal Schools don't need to get rid of their teachers or replace the administrators. She explains what students in these schools need:

What the students in these schools desperately need is intensive tutoring and small classes to make significant improvements, not a new cadre of inexperienced teachers or administrators breathing down their necks. And yet more than 60 percent of the Renewal schools still have many classes with 30 students or more, according to DOE data.

Jamaica High School was in the process of phasing out and we still were going to oversize class grievance hearings a few years back so I know that the Department of Education never really cared about lowering class sizes and still does not.

Leonie then tells us exactly what the true failure is:

The real scandal is that hundreds of thousands of New York City high school students, including those at schools that have allegedly engaged in credit manipulation, like Richmond Hill, Flushing, and Automotive, continue to struggle in large classes of 34 or more.  

Her conclusion:

If we are talking about accountability for schools and teachers, we must also address the accountability of those in charge of running our schools, and here the mayor and the chancellor have unaccountably failed.  

She's is 100% right!

My brother John Eterno, a professor of Criminal Justice at Molloy College, and retired John Jay Professor Eli Silverman have been showing how crime statistics have been played with, particularly in New York City, for years.  Their book, The Crime Numbers Game, is a must read for anyone interested in the truth on how crime statistics are played with for political purposes.

Recently, Eterno, Silverman along with Arvind Verma have had their most recent scholarly study published in the prestigious journal, Justice Quarterly, that further makes the case that we can't trust statistics coming from the New York City Police Department.

From the Abstract of the study:

Results indicate that the misuse of the performance management system and pressures on officers from management are key explanations for manipulating crime reports.

Not much different from what we are seeing in the schools. Police and educators must make the numbers look right or we are held accountable.

You need an account to access the full piece but my brother's blog called Unveiling Compstat gives a taste:
  1. Heard Deputy Commissioner XXXXX say in a pre Compstat meeting that a CO should just consolidate burglaries that occurred in an apartment building and count as one. Also not to count leap year stats. Make reporting a crime difficult to discourage the victims from following through such as asking for receipts and making the person appear in person at the SH [station house]. Discouraging Schools from reporting thefts or if they did consolidate thefts into one felony report or separate into multiple misd [misdemeanor] reports. Shred reports for those with no insurance etc. Inventory shrinkage from retail stores would be classified at the wholesale value of item rather than retail value to downgrade to misd [misdemeanor]. Reckless Endangerment used instead of attempted assault especially in shoot and miss situations.
We need that truth commission to reveal what is really going on in our government.


Anonymous said...

Better odds of being dealt a "Royal Fizzbin" than obtaining honest numbers from the city.

James Eterno said...

Did Mr. Spock ever finally calculate the odds of getting a Royal Fizzbin? I enjoy the Star Trek reference.