The collapse of standards in NY schools

There is a massive problem with NY public funded schooling.

It is to be expected with a left wing mayor intent on protecting the unionised education workforce.

Technically speaking, New York state Education Commissioner John King was correct when he insisted last week that ?we are not retreating? on school standards. So true ? it?s more like a surrender.

King?s attempt to put a happy face on the rout was wishful thinking, as the parade of white flags reveals. The commissioner has been admirably bold in pushing onward, but now marches mostly alone.

From Albany to City Hall, the education-reform movement is grinding to a halt. Meaningful teacher evaluations and standardized tests for students are either on hold or moving into the mushy world of educrat gobbledygook, where vapid self-esteem is prized more than real results.

To be sure, the collapse didn?t happen all at once. It recalls the Ernest Hemingway dialogue in ?The Sun Also Rises.?

When a man asks, ?How did you go bankrupt?? another answers, ?Two ways. Gradually, then suddenly.?

So it is with the collapse of standards. What started as a trickle is now a gusher wiping away the tentative progress on accountability.

The biggest blow came with an innocuous-sounding press release from city Schools Chancellor Carmen Fari?a. She announced a new promotion policy for grades 3 through 8 that ?takes the temperature down around testing? while allowing ?educators to make decisions about the students they know best while maintaining high standards.?

In plain English, that means that even if tests show Johnny can?t read, we?re giving him a gold star and sending him on to the next grade, where he?ll fall further behind before being passed on again. That?s the gist of social promotion, and it?s now ?official city policy.

Mayor de Blasio later boasted of the move, saying, ?We?re ?going to in every way we can move away from high-stakes testing.?

Presumably, that means he favors low-stakes testing, which is testing that doesn?t matter. Welcome to the new mayor?s education plan, where he?ll be able to claim victory because failure has been outlawed. ?

My word that sounds familiar. Our teacher unions here have exactly the same mentality.

Across the state, too many students and too many teachers couldn?t measure up to tougher standards, so the bar is being lowered or stashed in the closet.

Things were not exactly hunky-dory before, with dumbed-down tests, cred?it-recovery scams and outright cheating contributing to soaring graduation rates. Virtually every teacher was considered good enough for government work, even as rigorous national tests showed local students making minimal gains.

Sigh…unions are nothing more or less than a protection racket for the less than average.

They also joined the Common Core curriculum movement, which aims to better prepare students for college and career. But the first new tests sent scores tumbling, and parents and unions alike saw red over the widespread failure. The political establishment saw which way the wind was blowing and joined the resistance.

Despite its shortcomings, the Common Core is a sincere effort to better prepare students for life after 12th grade. By definition, that goal assumes that not every student or teacher will meet the standards.

That proved to be the rub. Our culture craves success so much that it can?t tolerate failure ? even when that failure is a diagnostic measurement, not a lifetime verdict. But, with the unions milking the discontent to try to keep even the worst teachers on the payroll, the defenders of standards are stampeding the exits.

That is the public funded and unionised schools…what is happening at the NY charter schools?

Well, something quite different.

There is one glorious exception: the best charter schools. They?re not asking to be exempt from the higher standards. Their students are meeting them because their teachers and parents understand the purpose and embrace the challenge.

The startling comparisons between charters and traditional public schools in places like Harlem explain why charters must be allowed to expand.

Their excellence serves as a reminder ? an annoying one to the de Blasio-Fari?a crowd ? that America?s children can compete with anyone if we demand that they do and help them succeed.

Don?t let the charter light go out. If it does, darkness will prevail.

And here Labour and the Greens, at the behest of teacher unions, want to extinguish the very same light of hope that is charter schools.

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