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Public Education on the Pillory in NYS

January 17, 2012

In separate speeches, Bloomberg and Cuomo  lashed public education for “failing students”. Here are two politicians who capped spending on schools, frozen or cut social programs, and used public funds to “attract new jobs” and now are claiming “public schools are failing to educate children”. Now Cuomo is claiming a new universal evaluation system will save the day. Andrew, more funds for the safety net and more coordination of services will help a LOT more!

In Boston, Mayor Menino is trying to change people’s minds about vocational education. Oh, he got a political dig in at the need to have “broad authority” to take control over the “faltering” school, but his ideas about vocational education make a lot of sense: students work a week and study for a week. That kind of program warms the hearts of a Drexel grad!

The Boston Globe editorial page featured an article about the new, improved, animated version of Cliff’s notes. On one level educators might view Cliff’s notes as “cheating”… but in many respects if a book is well written and well crafted the user of Cliff’s notes is cheating himself.

The Times features value added testing in its Room For Debate section. Herewith is a comment I offered to the portion authored by Chetty and Friedman, the economists who used a baseball metaphor to explain why value added testing is worthwhile.

The baseball metaphor is apt to this Red Sox fan who worked as a public school administrator for 30+ years. The Sox (and the hated Yankees) both recognized that there is no single metric for measuring performance and appreciated subtle metrics like OBP and the number of pitches a batter saw each time they came to the plate. Both teams also tried to get players who were “good teammates” as well… a metric that is VERY elusive and, as the Red Sox nation learned this year, VERY important. Statistics are nice, but character is more important. Let’s hope Bobby Valentine gets the statistically sound Red Sox back on track… and lets hope the quants begin to see that numbers are not all that matters in measuring teacher performance!

 

 

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