Rebuilding Place in the Urban Space

"A community’s physical form, rather than its land uses, is its most intrinsic and enduring characteristic." [Katz, EPA] This blog focuses on place and placemaking and all that makes it work--historic preservation, urban design, transportation, asset-based community development, arts & cultural development, commercial district revitalization, tourism & destination development, and quality of life advocacy--along with doses of civic engagement and good governance watchdogging.

Saturday, July 28, 2012

More mendaciousness about school reform: Joel Klein

Joel Klein, former chancellor of the New York City Public Schools, put on the job by Mayor Michael Bloomberg to improve scholastic performance, but more focused on interpreting the school reform agenda in terms of demonizing teachers, has an op-ed in the Wall Street Journal, "New York's Charter Schools Get an A+," where he calls out the success of charter schools there.

But his argument is flawed and misdirected.

1.  Klein says that when people point out poverty as a key problem in improving student performance that they are making excuses for not trying to improve scholastic performance.

2.  But really they are saying, deal with the impacts of poverty on students, otherwise you won't yield much in the way of substantive improvement in scholastic performance by lower income students ("the achievement gap").

3.  Klein calls out the achievement of the Success charter schools, where students "are performing at tthe same level as NYC's gifted and talented schools..."

4.  But he fails to acknowledge that part of the program in those schools is acknowledging poverty and its impact on students and addressing the impacts in ways that enhance the student's ability to learn.

5.  And he ignores the fact that most of the prominent efforts in "school reform" (NYC and Washington, DC in particular) are mostly focused on demonizing teachers (and teachers unions, sometimes justifiably) rather than addressing how poverty shapes underlying persistent achievement gaps and coming up with programs of support and development selectively targeting students, families, teachers, principals, and schools as necessary.

Basically, the school reform effort as articulated by Klein generally is to address poverty by "improving" teachers, rather than simultaneously improving teaching AND addressing poverty, educational deficits, etc.  Evaluation systems for teachers advocated by the "reform" movement are designed in ways that mostly ignore poverty and expect that exceptional teachers can always overcome this and any other problem that individual students might have.

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