Dear Editors of the New York Times,
re: No Gains by New York Students ... -- NYT 10/14/09 -- I know this is too long but the Times should be immune to sound bites. Your education reporters should really get real and start to address reality and not just what the Bloomberg machine shovels out to them (in spite of the prodigious and corrupting power of his advertising monies).
It is not surprising that a serious, longitudinal observer like Diane Ravitch indicts the Bloom-Kleinberg's cynical and self-serving educational policy (if you keep changing the guidelines you can't be judged on your guidelines) with a pithy and accurate statement like "What this amounts to is a fraud."
Under the watch of these two, the Department of Education (DOE) has morphed into the Department of Graduation (DOG). As always with political entities the emphasis falls on the last word in the departmental aim: Graduation trumps Education. The Bloom-Kleinberg mob have altered their original lip-service concerns about the education of our students into a more statistically convenient focus upon the graduation of students. They have very little concern about the education of our students if it gets int he way of the graduation rate of students. They don't really care about educating; they mostly care about graduating.
Let's face facts. If we are talking about college bound students with a hope of graduating within 4-6 years, only about 30% of them make it. The "it" here being the track toward a reasonable stability in their life styles and/or upward mobility. So it doesn't really matter if the high school graduation rate is 90%, 70%, or 50%, because only about 30% will make it through college anyway. The current mania about graduation rates is a result of NAFTA and the "global economy." We no longer have abundant unskilled and marginally skilled jobs to employ enough of the roughly 70% of society who cannot cut it and get through college. There simply are no jobs for about 40% to 50% of high school graduates other than those in the food service and retail industries. It's all about the politics of denial.
High School as presently constituted and funded is totally inadequate and unprepared to address these issues.
Allow me re-phrase Ms. Ravitch according to my take on the situation: What all of this bogus focus on graduation rates amounts to is a defrauding of the middle class and a power grab by the entitled oligarchs in allocating scare resources to the advantage of their entitled spawn.
The oligarchs gravitate toward the limited space in charter schools, or more traditionally (like Mayor Bllomberg, and ironically, Al Sharpton as well) isolate their spawn from the "riff-raff" in private schools.
However anyone cares to slice it we are engaged in class warfare for scant and diminishing resources.
Basically under the likes of a Bloom-Kleinberg DOG (Departmant of GRADUATION, in case you have forgotten the sole focus), we slap a sham sheep-skin (dumbed so down to insure that all can leap a hurdle set so low as to be almost ground level) into the hands of an untutored neophyte and pretend that it is his/her fault if he/she can't make it the Social Darwinian Jungle out there. How short-term cynical and politically self-serving is that?
Remember, many of you, so many, voted for this ticket once or twice; but need we deny our own self interests a third time before the cock crows?
In the words of Diane Ravitch, "What this amounts to is a fraud."
So many frauds in so many ways. Ineptitude attempts to hide its mistakes by constantly altering its stated conceits.
-- Wil Hallgren
Wil Hallgren is an English teacher and Poet.