Monday, March 14, 2016


The Indeypendent published a review of Mayor Bill de Blasio's education policies written by Class Size Matters Director Leonie Haimson.

Leonie acknowledges that de Blasio and his Schools Chancellor Carmen Farina are not rushing to close schools or co-locate as many charter schools as their predecessor. That's the positive news. Then, Leonie goes on the attack.

First, she slams the literacy coaches being hired by Farina because this is not a research proven method to improve literacy and a similar program was already attempted by former Mayor Michael Bloomberg without success.

On lowering class sizes, Leonie is blunt in her criticism of the Department of Education.  She states: 

At the same time, the number of students in grades K-3 in classes of 30 or more continues to increase, with more than 48,000 students in the early grades in classes this large, and more than 350,000 students overall in classes this large. Class size reduction is a research-proven reform, and the top choice of parents on the Department of Education’s (DOE) own surveys. Despite this, the chancellor has repeatedly stated that she doesn’t consider class size reduction a priority.
This summer, the city also rejected the recommendations of its own appointed task force to align the school capacity formula with smaller classes. Despite a promise to the state to focus its efforts on lowering class size on the 93 struggling Renewal schools, we found that 40 percent did not lower class size and over 60 percent still have classes of 30 or more.
Leonie then takes on school budgets and notes how the city is only planning to fund schools at 91% of Fair Student Funding.  Leonie then crushes de Blasio on waste in contracts noting that the city is paying $2,291 an hour for consulting at Renewal Schools. That's somewhat higher than A teacher's hourly rate for per session. She then is critical of school overcrowding which she claims will only worsen as the city is not building enough schools to keep up with enrollment growth. 
Leonie then fires one last missile when she blasts de Blasio-Farina for appealing a lawsuit that parents and Public Advocate Letitia James won saying that School Leadership Team meetings must be open to the public to comply with the open meetings law.  The city is improperly arguing that the SLT's are only advisory so the open meetings law does not apply. State law contradicts this assertion.
Leonie concludes:
Though we won the lawsuit, the city is now appealing. This refusal to grant parents any real authority via their School Leadership Teams reflects a larger problem: the DOE is still excessively wedded to top-down policymaking, with far too little respect for the views of the parents and other stakeholder groups whose input will be critical to improving our schools.
We all have to be wary of so called progressives such as de Blasio saying they will improve our schools.  From my point of view as a classroom teacher, Leonie is absolutely correct.  Top-down management has not changed one iota from Bloomberg Klein to de Blasio-Farina.  That is sad news. 
The only people happy with the status quo seem to be the leadership of the UFT and the bureaucracy at DOE.


NYCDOEnuts said...

It's criticism. I'll give it that. Stinging isn't exactly what I'd call it.

Harris L. said...

I have been skeptical, from the very beginning, that the School Renewal program is anything more than a panicked response by the City 18 months ago to one of the very few reasonable things that Meryl Tisch has said or done during her tenure as NYS State Education Chancellor.

Tisch called out the fact that nearly 100 schools were "out of time" when it came to their status as "persistently struggling" schools--and, yes, I'm aware that using flawed test results to determine which schools are "struggling" is problematic. Nevertheless, these have been the most challenged schools in NYC for many years.

The deBlasio administration panicked when Tisch gave the City 30 days to provide a plan for these schools. Tweed threw together a hastily prepared and barely defensible "community schools" program dubbed "Renewal Schools." It forced those schools to adopt a community school model without any real administrative or staff development support or guidance about how to develop effective community schools with the sorts of community health, social services and ties that make community schools work.

So it's no surprise that Tweed is spending $2,000/hour on consulting to dig it out of the mess it's made with the Renewal program. Cami Anderson was harshly criticized when she and Cory Booker spent $1,000/hour on consulting to put their disastrous "One Newark" reform program in place.

If Anderson, Booker and Mark Zuckerberg can be slammed for this sort of waste and nonsense then so should Mayor de Blasio, Carmen Farina and the entire Tweed superstructure.

Good for Lionie....

Anonymous said...

Things are worse in every way possible with DeBlasio. Huge classes, out of control students, inexperienced admins and teachers, and a very accommodating UFT president. DeBlasio is the real racist, he's done ZERO to fix the schools. Not only am I retiring quickly, I'm moving out of this ridiculous city, pronto.

steve said...

This all comes down to 1 thing. Student behavior in minority schools. And it cant be fixed.

Anonymous said...

I have been teaching for almost 20 years in the DOE. This year I have absolutely seen the highest class sizes of my career. Saddest thing is that nothing is going to change.

Boris said...

And the most disrespect. Cant go 1 period without insubordination, hall walkers, suck my dick, fuck you, you dont pay my phone bill so i wont put it away, the list goes on and on. Any punishment? None.

James Eterno said...

"the DOE is still excessively wedded to top-down policymaking, with far too little respect for the views of the parents and other stakeholder groups whose input will be critical to improving our schools."

Top-down policy making with far too little respect for the views of parents and other stakeholders... If that is not stinging, I don't know what it is Mr. DOENUTS.

It's almost three years into his term.

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NYCDOEnuts said...

I think we should all keep making friends in just this manner. 2017 is nine months away and counting.

Anonymous said...

When our so called friends screw you over, what are we supposed to do?

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