Ravitch on New York’s failed experiment in school turnaround model. Lessons for all of us.

Many of you follow the blog of noted education historian Diane Ravitch. She sent me a link today to her most recent blog, which I thought was worth sharing. You can read the original here.

Here is her blog on the failed reform efforts of New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg:

From The New York Daily News (owned by billionaire Mort Zuckerman, who also owns U.S. News & World Report) often runs editorials applauding the “reforms” of the Bloomberg administration. Its editorials are anti-union, anti-teacher, and consistently supportive of the policy of closing schools that have low test scores.

But the New York Daily News has excellent reporters who don’t follow the editorial line. They just report the news. And the story today is stunning.

The headline summarizes the story: “Bloomberg’s New Schools Have Failed Thousands of City Students: Did More Poorly on State Reading Tests than Older Schools with Similar Poverty Rates.”

This analysis shows the abject failure of the policy that has been the centerpiece of the Bloomberg reforms for the past decade.

Closing schools and replacing them with new schools is also the centerpiece of the Obama-Duncan “turnaround” strategy.

Here is an excerpt from the news story. Note that the grandmother of a student in Brooklyn makes more sense than the six-figure bureaucrats who run the New York City Department of Education. Tanya King of Brooklyn for Chancellor!

When The News examined 2012 state reading test scores for 154 public elementary and middle schools that have opened since Mayor Bloomberg took office, nearly 60% had passing rates that were lower than older schools with similar poverty rates.

The new schools also showed poor results in the city’s letter-grade rating system, which uses a complicated formula to compare schools with those that have similar demographics.

Of 133 new elementary and middle schools that got letter grades last year, 15% received D’s and F’s — far more than the city average, where just 10% of schools got the rock-bottom grades.

“It’s crazy,” said Tanya King, who helped wage a losing battle to save Brooklyn’s Academy of Business and Community Development, where her grandson was a student.

The school opened in 2005, then closed in 2012.

Instead of closing struggling schools and replacing them with something else that doesn’t work, King says, the city should help with extra resources to save the existing schools.

“You have the same children in the school,” she said. “What’s going to be the difference? Put in the services that are going to make the school better.”

Her grandson Donnovan Hicks, 11, will be transferred next fall for the seventh-grade into another Bloomberg-created school, Brooklyn’s Peace Academy, where just 13% passed the state reading exams this spring.

–From Maureen Downey, for the AJC Get Schooled blog

102 comments Add your comment

crankee-yankee

July 22nd, 2012
9:49 am

But since this evidence doesn’t track with the “remormist” line of thinking, it will be panned or ignored.

Dunwoody Mom

July 22nd, 2012
10:18 am

@crankee-yankee, that’s true and why it is imperative the parents become the frontline in the battle against these “reform” movements – everyone else is ignored. When all is said and done, Bill Gates, Michelle Rhee, et all, will be responsible for the destruction of the education of our children. I would suggest that all parents and stakeholders to please start educating themselves on this “reform” movement pushed by Gates, Rhee, Pearson, etc.

Rent "Waiting for Superman"

July 22nd, 2012
10:21 am

Maureen, you are a wholly-owned propaganda tool of the teachers’ unions, and you should drop any pretense of running a “debate” blog.

Dunwoody Mom

July 22nd, 2012
10:31 am

The standard line of those who question the “reform” movement – it’s the fault of the teachers’ unions.

living in an outdated ed system

July 22nd, 2012
10:35 am

Ms. Ravitch’s blog is nonsense. I have already respectfully lambasted her for her ignorance around game-based learning and her attacks on Bill Gates. It is fine to disagree with him on matters of policy, but to continue to steadfastly refuse any outside” help on education reform, is causing irreparable harm to our education system. I am sick and tired of hearing her, and others, say “Why do people listen to him about education? He’s not a teacher!” You all need to realize that only way education will be fixed in this country is if “insiders” allow “outsiders” to help them solve the problems in the spirit of collaboration. That’s how innovation works – from the “outside-in” not the other way around! Ms. Ravitch likes to say she’s a “historian.” No, she is not. She is a lobbyist and has become the symbol of the resistance against education reform in America.

You don’t believe me? Here’s the “nonsense” she wrote on her blog about game-based learning. She cites no research for her conclusions and she should not comment on topics she does not understand. In fact, no should comment on an issue if they are not fully informed.

From Diane’s Blog – 7/18/2012

Are you ready? Bill Gates says that game-based learning is the future of education.

He has a dream. A dream of children sitting around and playing games on their computers or their iPads or their Whatevers.

They will be wearing galvanic skin response monitor bracelets, or they will have a little chip in their heads to measure their level of excitement, and they will be excited all the time.

Every classroom–if there are classrooms–will buzz with their excitement. Little and big squeals of sheer joy as they blast off and shoot the intruder or blow away somebody else’s avatar or compete to win the most points.

They will be so excited that they won’t want to go home. They won’t want to read a book.

They will need half a gram of soma to calm down, to become calm enough to leave the classroom of the future where they have spent the entire day in play and gaming.

Just a question: Why does he get to do this to our children? Why doesn’t he use his own children as guinea pigs first?

Another question: Why do education leaders listen to him?

Mirva

July 22nd, 2012
10:36 am

Yet again, this shows that any “reform” measure that does not center around the issue of poverty and the issues that come from children who live in poverty is doomed to fail. Of course there will be some who manage to overcome these problems, but the majority will not. Closing your eyes to these very real issues and making blanket statements like “no excuses” and “all children can learn” does not make these problems disappear. If you don’t address the problems head on, you are doomed to fail.

EduKtr

July 22nd, 2012
10:39 am

So Diane Ravitch is tagged a “noted” yadda-yadda … while Mort Zuckermann is damned to the eternal flames of hell as a (gasp!) BILLIONAIRE.

Gee, that’s a balanced way to frame an issue. Did they teach you that in journalism school, Maureen?

Dunwoody Mom

July 22nd, 2012
10:51 am

Where in the post was Zuckerman “damned to the eternal flames of hell” for being a BILLIONAIRE? Another way to distract from the conversation…

SGaDawgette

July 22nd, 2012
10:55 am

@ Rent and EduKtr: please notice the different print. Maureen Downey did not make those comments. They were in the part of Ravitch’s blog that she posted for discussion. Debate would be more productive if you aimed your arguments at the appropriate source.

Maureen Downey

July 22nd, 2012
11:16 am

@SGA, Rent and EduKtr are the same poster. When we move to some form of registration, this practice of people posting under one name and then agreeing with themselves under another name will cease. Posters will have to pick a screen name and stick to it.
And to those who don’t realize this, the blog tool shows me posters who are posting under different names via the duplicate IP addresses. There are actually only a handful of daily posters who do it, but they do it daily.
I am also aware when longtime posters (Good Mother) reinvent themselves under new names. Not sure why. My AJC colleagues and I have many discussions about the stranger posting habits of folks and what their motivations are. Still not sure.

Maureen

Socrates

July 22nd, 2012
11:25 am

So grandma says schools need “extra resources” LOL. After 30+ years in education both in the USA and other countries here is the only resource that works –education will improve only when parents make it the most important part of the childrens live –Wow how hard is that? You realize that the USA spends nearly double to educate a child today than we did in the 1970’s and 80’s? Can anyone seriously argue that children are better educated? Education buzz words, new “innovative” strategies , more and more money, yeah that’ll work won’t it?

William Casey

July 22nd, 2012
11:41 am

@Maureen: I’m pleased that you are considering registration and requiring people to post under only one name. That would be a step in the right direction for rational discussion.

GeeMac

July 22nd, 2012
11:43 am

@Socrates, the primary reason we spend more money today is IDEA. Educating a child with severe mental and or physical handicaps is extremely expensive. Back in the 70s, these students were usually not accepted in the public schools.

LoganvilleGuy

July 22nd, 2012
11:46 am

It seems to me that the more that federal and state governments try and regulate education, the more our educational system seems to decline. Yet, those that are trying to push through huge reform changes rely on federal and state government to push them on local school systems.

crankee-yankee

July 22nd, 2012
11:50 am

Maureen Downey
July 22nd, 2012
11:16 am

It is sad that contributors multi-post.
Is it that they can only legitimize their viewpoints through deceit?

mountain man

July 22nd, 2012
12:14 pm

GeeMac – you are absolutely correct about the driver of a lot of increased educational expenses – IDEA. SPED studests cost a LOT more to “mainstream”, with little results to show for it.

I_teach!!

July 22nd, 2012
12:15 pm

Not a great surprise, really.

And, Rhee’s very short and stormy tenure as D.C.’s school chancellor really didn’t help her argument.

Reopening schools without addressing the special issues that come with teaching the poor will not fix a damned thing.

But teachers know this.

And, for the person who has to use multiple names to bolster his argument? Keep in mind-GA is without a teacher’s union…and unions are not the evil things that they have been made to be.

I_teach!!

July 22nd, 2012
12:15 pm

*teachers’. I’m in vacation brain mode…although that ends next Monday!

sneak peek into education

July 22nd, 2012
12:16 pm

If anyone believes that the reform movement are in it for the sake of the children (and believe me, the battle cry of it’s for the children is truly bogus-it’s for the MONEY), they are gravely mistaken. Please take 5 minutes to watch the following link (again posted by Diane Ravitch) and you will see what the reform movement truly cares about-COLD HARD CASH. PLEASE PASS THIS ON TO EVERYONE YOU KNOW, ESPECIALLY OTHER TEACHERS, PTA MEMBERS, PARENTS, AND OUR LEGISLATURE. HELP TO MAKE IT GO VIRAL!!

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=sFTNQ1PAMiY&feature=youtu.be

Also, thanks Maureen. I stated my concern only the other day about people posting under different names numerous times to make statements and then agree with themselves. They are wolves in sheep’s clothing.

NTLB

July 22nd, 2012
12:16 pm

These so called “reform” models for schools could work if they also included “reform” formulas that addressed the deficiences and problems of the COMMUNITIES of the low performing schools.

Bloomberg’s reform tactics are isolated and futile as proven by the report above. It take an entire village, not a new school, to raise a child.

Solutions

July 22nd, 2012
12:46 pm

The lesson I take from the report is this: Students who want to learn flock to the new schools, which then perform well. Administrators see this, and for a variety of reasons, send some disruptive and lower IQ students to these higher performing schools, where the performance level drops. The moral of the story is this: Mixing high IQ students who want to learn with lower IQ students (many of whom are disruptive, for a variety of reasons) degrades the performance and accomplishments of all students, especially the performance of the ones who want to learn. We need to find a way to separate the students who want to learn from the ones who do not want to learn, and within the group who wants to learn, divided again by ability (IQ) so each group of willing learners can advance as rapidly as possible. I do not know what the solution is for the group that does not want to learn and is disruptive, perhaps a few months of forced farm labor to assist in providing them with perspective on their futures should their disruptive behavior continue?

Dd

July 22nd, 2012
12:55 pm

And again….the empire strikes back

mountain man

July 22nd, 2012
1:05 pm

Ahh, Solutions, I now have figured out your code words:

High IQ = White

Low IQ = Black.

I understand now.

teacher&mom

July 22nd, 2012
1:08 pm

@Maureen: The new registration process can not begin soon enough!

@cranky yankee: Those that post under several names also have the audacity to accuse the “union shrills” (of which I’m a proud member) of doing the same thing. Which proves my Grandmother was right, once again. The guilty are always the first to squeal.

mountain man

July 22nd, 2012
1:08 pm

The best “reform” would be a return to the basics of yesteryear: Discipline in schools and “F”s for those who fail ( and resulting retention). When we got away from these, we lost our education system. Then we try all these “reforms” to accomplish the impossible without addressing the basics.

teacher&mom

July 22nd, 2012
1:11 pm

@living in an outdated system: So, if Diane Ravitch is wrong about Bloomberg and NYC schools, what is the reason for the decline in test scores?

Solutions

July 22nd, 2012
1:15 pm

mountain man, there are high IQ black students, and their learning is disrupted by the lower IQ students just as much as the higher IQ students of other races. I believe much of the disruptive behavior of the lower IQ students is a front or a mask to hide their embarrassment at not being able to keep up with the smarter students, so they stop trying and actively try to slow the progress of the class. The solution is to separate the slower students, regardless of race, from the “smarter” students, and teach the slower students in a way that allows them to learn, and take pride in their accomplishments. Remember, the decline in educational achievement has been mostly at the higher end of the spectrum, due to disruptions in the learning environment, and the dumb-ing down of textbooks. Minimize the disruptions, and return to challenging text books (by IQ level) and achievement will follow an upward trend.

mountain man

July 22nd, 2012
1:18 pm

Solutions – I believe in “tracking” based on performance, but I don’t know of any test that can reliably measure “IQ”.

But some of the disruptive behavior has nothing to do with IQ – some very smart kids are the most disruptive – or the most absent from school.

Atlanta Mom

July 22nd, 2012
1:29 pm

Maureen,
My husband and I post under different names, but from the same household. Will this be a problem under the new registration system?
Thanks

EduKtr

July 22nd, 2012
1:33 pm

Maureen, I and no doubt many others posting to this blog are forced to use popular “proxy” IP addresses—because of your regular attempts to censor conservative views. It isn’t rocket science, and it’s therefore no surprise that IP addresses would be duplicated.

My home IP address is blocked by you, as well as my original posting name—though you won’t admit it. You also suspend discussion entirely when it suits you.

May I suggest that you and your AJC colleagues would need have fewer “discussions” if you ran a newspaper that reflects the diversity of Georgia opinion?

I love teaching. I hate what it is becoming...

July 22nd, 2012
1:37 pm

“….the blog tool shows me posters who are posting under different names via the duplicate IP addresses. There are actually only a handful of daily posters who do it, but they do it daily.”

Glad to have this confirmed. I have long suspected as much, based upon the “voice” of some posters which are pretty much identical. Same phrases. Same talking points. Same style. (Also same insults directed towards others.) I also suspect they are the very posters who most often accuse fellow posters of posting under multiple names.

@living “You all need to realize that only way education will be fixed in this country is if “insiders” allow “outsiders” to help them solve the problems in the spirit of collaboration.”

I am all for collaborating on reforms – the problem isn’t that the “insiders” have kept out the “outsiders. It is that the “outsiders” have been imposing their reforms on the “insiders” without ALLOWING for input or collaboration from the “insiders.” Many of the problems we are facing in education today have been brought about by “reforms” and mandates placed upon our schools without listening to the legitimate concerns of those in the trenches. Ask any teacher who was teaching when NCLB was passed. We all KNEW it was destined to fail! We voiced our concerns, and were ignored. And now, states are opting out because they realize it does not work. We could have told them that years ago and saved billions in taxpayers funds.

EduKtr

July 22nd, 2012
1:43 pm

“Ron F” and “teacher&mom” (and “Dunwoody Mom”?), by the way, are all from the same source … someone either using proxy IP address or teacher union resources. But of course he/she never fails to agree with your anti-parental choice stand and so are free to post.

… and post, and post, and post.

EduKtr

July 22nd, 2012
1:53 pm

Oh, and add “I love/hate teaching” to the list of probable teacher union (Ron F) pseudonyms.

Attentive Parent/Invisible Serfs Collar

July 22nd, 2012
1:54 pm

I looked into what was actually going on in New York as part of looking into Cambridge Education and its School Quality Reports that insist the teachers are not supposed to teach content. For those unaware, Fulton County hired Cambridge to audit all its schools in anticipation of that dreadful charter going into effect. Cambridge’s 1st work in the US was in NYC where it also told the teachers they could no longer teach the content. I wrote about it here: http://www.invisibleserfscollar.com/if-the-system-seeks-to-destroy-the-ability-to-think-can-james-madison-save-us/

Besides the pernicious effects of this UNESCO Quality Assurance template, NYC also suffers from a problem plagueing so many schools in the US. A failure to understand the actual non-common sense meaning of so many of the terms being used. There ends up being a disconnect between the assumed meaning and thus intentions of the reforms and the actual meanings.

NYC parents should probably consult an insider ed Glossary (or mine) on terms like School Improvement, rigorous, and especially Accountability.

Invariably the public and the administrators are working off two different scripts because of these unappreciated differences in actual word meanings.

Solutions

July 22nd, 2012
1:58 pm

mountain man, we are pretty much in agreement, I would not forbid children who score low on an IQ test from choosing to take the more difficult courses, but at the same time, they must keep up with the class, we should never slow the progress of the brightest. Rather than slow the “bright” class, just allow the ones who cannot keep up to fail, and return to the lower level class. IQ tests are predictive of performance, and they are highly reproducible, but they should not be used as a barrier to entry, rather they should be used to sort the children into groups so they can learn as well and as rapidly as possible. By permitting any child to choose the more difficult class, we can avoid the claims of discrimination. The child will prosper or fail in the more advanced class based on their own ability and effort.

Happy St. Pat's

July 22nd, 2012
1:59 pm

So the new schools underperform similar existing schools? That’s interesting, but how do the new schools compare to those that they replaced? That’s the real question. Replacing a school that had nurtured a culture of failure or indifference could still be an improvement, and it might take a little while to overcome the handicap. That said, I’m not surprised. Winning an election doesn’t make you smart, but it certainly may inflate your ego, making you *think* that you stayed at a Holiday Inn Express last night.

crankee-yankee

July 22nd, 2012
2:01 pm

mountain man
July 22nd, 2012
1:18 pm

Yes, there are many discipline problems in “gifted” classes. Although “solutions” is correct with the idea that some disrupt due to embarrassment, it is much more involved than that. Boredom, different learning styles, broken homes, lack of nutrition, sleep, etc. all have an effect at different times/days. No one response will solve the problem of discipline, just as no one factor is the cause.

IMHO, the path that has lead away from truly “comprehensive” schools is as much to blame as any other factor. Hands-on activities, as found in the “shop” classes of old, were where many students with discipline problems in the “regular” classes would shine. They found a place where they could express the talents they had and would find connections to their core classes. With the movement to a more academy-like environment, those breaks in their day giving them an outlet disappeared.

Some core disciplines have begun to utilize the type activities of the past calling them manipulatives. Nothing new, just a return to good techniques. Some disciplines never lost the activities but had to scale them back due to budget constraints. Consumable supplies are not cheap. You get what you pay for. The rise in discipline issues is an unintended consequence of budget cuts.

I have been wrong in past posts citing $3 billion in education cuts in GA starting in the Purdue administration. I just saw a report that pegs the cuts at about $5.3 billion. Maybe that is adjusted for inflation.

Hmmmmm.....

July 22nd, 2012
2:01 pm

Schools can’t take the place of families and involved parents, no matter how many trillions of dollars you sink into them with whatever system you create, liberal or conservative…..will NEVER happen

Too many irresponsible people having unwanted children…..whatchya gonna do??

MM

July 22nd, 2012
2:28 pm

Ten years ago Ravich was on the oppostite side of where she is today. Her truest skill is sensing the trend and sailing in that direction. Somehow she seems to always be on the leading edge. No one should be listening to such an opportunist.

Happy St. Pat's

July 22nd, 2012
2:30 pm

Whatcha gonna do. Gotta do something . . . Those kids are your future doctors, future plumbers, or future thugs and baby-makers. Whatcha gonna do right now??????

Aquagirl

July 22nd, 2012
2:37 pm

Maureen, I and no doubt many others posting to this blog are forced to use popular “proxy” IP addresses—because of your regular attempts to censor conservative views. It isn’t rocket science, and it’s therefore no surprise that IP addresses would be duplicated.

I’ve ragged on Maureen and other AJC writers for everything from their hair to crappy journalism. I’ve posted all sorts of views from libertarian/conservative to bedwetter liberal. Nobody’s ever censored me.

“Forced” to use proxy IP addresses? Honey, get a life. If you’re sitting there in your tricorn hat thinking “ooh, I fooled Maureen, I WINZ!!!” you should spend less time here and more time with mental health professionals. If you’re invested in the idea of you as the ‘Merican resistance to AJC liberal tyranny that’s just plain sad.

It’s a friggin’ blog. You’re not Spartacus.

Prof

July 22nd, 2012
2:44 pm

@ EduKtr. I am rather insulted that you have not added me to your group of “teacher union pseudonyms” along with Ron F., Teacher & Mom, Dunwoody Mom, and I love teaching, I hate what it is becoming. I’ve certainly come out in favor of teachers’ unions in past posts.

living in an outdated ed system

July 22nd, 2012
2:46 pm

@Teacher & Mom – have you read Ms. Ravitch’s blog? It’s just a series of rants. She will ALWAYS take one report that helps her POV, and then will make sweeping generalizations based on that ONE report.

Quite frankly, I don’t really put my credibility into her perspective, because she’s an anachronism. Until she realizes that we need to move from a “teacher-centric” to “student-centric” mindset, she is useless to me. She fails to acknowledge that change is difficult, and there will be bumps along the road. And quite frankly, I could give a _____ about test scores because they mean very little to me, especially multiple choice tests.

living in an outdated ed system

July 22nd, 2012
2:49 pm

@I Love Teaching – I have to respectfully disagree with you. If we fixed the system and teachers had the ability to truly innovate in the classroom, things would be different. Instead, we have self interest groups like the teachers unions blocking every single attempt to try and reform public education. I am against the NEA, not against teachers. But with our current system in place, I guess they’re pretty much the same thing, which is truly sad.

Rent the film "Waiting for Superman"

July 22nd, 2012
2:50 pm

Maureen: Just came across your angry post. Puzzling, but I note you don’t address my charge that you are a tool of the teachers’ unions.

Out of curiosity—how do you sleep at night, while fighting day after day against parental choice and education reform?

catlady

July 22nd, 2012
2:51 pm

Well, I know I don’t post under several names. I can’t agree with myself from one moment to the next (the curse of learning in grad school how to argue from differing points of view, I guess, or maybe I have some schitzo thing going on!)

“Reform” that is predicated on some “miracle” thought up by someone who hasn’t devoted their life to educating children (NOT making money) is just self-serving drivel, no more worthy of consideration than the hairball my cat brings up.

I love teaching. I hate what it is becoming...

July 22nd, 2012
2:56 pm

@EdKtr “Ron F” and “teacher&mom” (and “Dunwoody Mom”?), by the way, are all from the same source … someone either using proxy IP address or teacher union resources. ”

You know, I actually thought you might be legit and have access to the IP addresses, but then you threw this in there: “Oh, and add “I love/hate teaching” to the list of probable teacher union (Ron F) pseudonyms.”

And since I KNOW I am not Ron F. or anyone else on your list, you just blew any credibility you might have with me concerning multi-name posters.

catlady

July 22nd, 2012
2:59 pm

BTW, Ms Downey@11:16: I bet you and colleagues could write a book about weird stuff folks do re blogs! (Off topic, but I have a friend who worked in the ER as a nurse and you should HEAR some of the stories he tells about what people “do” to themselves!)

EduKtr

July 22nd, 2012
3:03 pm

@Prof: Yes, yes, by leaving you out I didn’t mean to suggest you’re not earning your monthly blog posting stipend from the teachers’ union. Or that you revile any less the inner-city parents stuck with failing public schools.

You have every reason to likewise feel ashamed of yourself.

Progressive Humanist

July 22nd, 2012
3:14 pm

Mountain Man- An IQ test (the various incarnations of the Stanford-Binet) can reliably measure IQ. They are extremely reliable and very stable in their measure of IQ after the age of 6. Did you mean that you know of no test that can measure all aspects of intelligence? That is something you can viably argue, but it’s not credible to suggest that IQ can’t be measured. IQ has probably been accurately and reliably assessed more than any other psychological construct over the last 100 years.