Tuesday, October 12, 2010

Superman Gets Riddled With Bullets

As I mentioned a while back, the Harlem Children's Zone schools didn't fare so well with the recalibrated ELA and math tests. They also didn't score well on the city's report card, with one school scoring a C and the other a B. Remember, these are the schools touted ad nauseum by Waiting for Superman and the Oprah show as the model we all should follow. Here's some reporting by the Times that makes the point a bit sharper:

But most of the seventh graders, now starting their third year in the school, are still struggling. Just 15 percent passed the 2010 state English test, a number that Mr. Canada said was “unacceptably low” but not out of line with the school’s experience in lifting student performance over time. Several teachers have been fired as a result of the low scores, and others were reassigned, he said.

Even more shocking than these pitiful results is the fact that these schools are blessed with advantages that city public school teachers can only dream of, to wit:

In the tiny high school of the zone’s Promise Academy I, which teaches 66 sophomores and 65 juniors (it grows by one grade per year), the average class size is under 15, generally with two licensed teachers in every room. There are three student advocates to provide guidance and advice, as well as a social worker, a guidance counselor and a college counselor, and one-on-one tutoring after school.

Are you kidding me? Two teachers in a class? Class sizes of 15? And you get those dismal results? This is a disgrace. THIS is the solution to all our educational problems? This is the model the entire nation is supposed to follow? And let's not forget that in order to get even these awful results, Canada dismissed an entire grade that wasn't meeting his "standards".

In my school, we have class sizes that range from 28 to 35, with just one teacher per room. We don't have any huge grants from billionaires or backing from Oprah, but our passing percentage was over four times higher than the results posted by the Times. And yes--we are those dreaded public school teachers who must be gotten rid of in favor of the charter school teachers that Mr. Canada prefers.


reality-based educator said...

You make some great points, AT - 15 to a class, two teachers, all the extra resources, and that's the best they could do on the tests?

And yet, I fear that just as the Bush admin learned that if you just repeat a lie enough (Saddam had WMD, Saddam had WMD...), enough people believe what you're saying.

That's how it seems to be with charters and the HCZ in particular.

What with Oprah, NBC and the other media shills happy to perpetuate the lie, it is hard to get the truth out - they kinda suck, given all the money they have and the results they're getting.

But it's good to see the Times take this on. First Bloomberg/Klein and the test scores yesterday, the HCZ today.

NYC Educator said...

Great column, Mr. A. Talk. I'm so glad you're out there with your turban, looking into your crystal ball, and finding the truths that elude the MSM.

California Teacher said...

Do you think the unimpressive performance of HCZ is due to the fact that the place is run by megalomaniacs?
Just a thought...

james boutin said...

Interesting - I'd be interested to see what's going on in those classrooms.

Moriah Untamed said...

This is actually an argument in favor of testing. If all we had were Oprah infomercials, we wouldn't be able to verify if these charter schools were living up to their hype.

ed notes online said...

Great piece AT
Let's not confuse Canada's educational vision, which I would think we want for all our kids, with his craven political attempts to vilify teachers and the unions. On the NBC Education Nation Harlem teacher Brian Jones went straight at Canada and he got real nasty - attributing his "results" to his ability to fire teachers instead of providing cradle to grave support. I don't care if his results are crappy - support for teachers and kids is what we want and if the scores don't show it right away we still should be fighting the bottom liners who want "results." Shame on Canada for playing this game and getting hoisted on his own petard.

Anonymous said...

I especially liked the statement in the article that there would have been a senior class but that particular 9th did not meet up to their standards and they were let go.
What a holler! As if we could do that. Oh, I would like to do that.a