Remember those two bumbling idiots, Bloom and Bialystock, played by the great Gene Wilder and the late great Zero Mostel (pictured) in Mel Brooks' movie, "The Producers"? How they conned everyone into believing they were producing a hit play when in fact they wanted it to flop? This is how I feel about New York City Mayor Mike Bloomberg and Department of Education Chancellor Joel Klein, two bumblers trying to con the public into believing that children come first, that teachers will be held accountable, and that all will be right with education in New York City. If only they were simply harmless entertainment as Wilder and Mostel were. But these two, these corporate minded businessmen, are the reality students and teachers must face. Their intention, to turn the school system into a corporation, is well underway. In the end it is the teachers and students who lose, not them.
With their emphasis on testing and statistics, businessman Bloomberg and Corporate Lawyer Klein have lost sight of the bigger picture, the root cause of the problem with public education today. Parents are not held accountable. In fact, when dealing with a problem child, parents are virtually absent. Oh for the halcyon days of the early sixties and before when teachers where in charge and students weren't. Those were the days when teachers were even allowed to smack a troublemaker upside the head and not even fear for their job. Today, it is the other way around. Parents have taught their children to worship freedom so much they go ahead and defy the classroom authority with impunity.
In come the comedy team of Bloomberg and Klein whose only answer is to blame the teachers. True, next September, they will be armed with their new super computer named "ARIS" which is supposed to track the progress of every student and the teachers who teach them, but will there also be a place in the program to track parents who have decided not to raise their children? The department of education, city of New York is so overwhelmed with troubled students, they have no idea what to do with them. Renaissance centers were opened as places to send disruptive students, but when children return from these centers, they are as bad or worse then they were before. This is because the centers are simply warehouses where they dump the trouble makers who sit all day in another school and do nothing. It is kind of like what they do with rotten teachers. The department sends them to a district office to sit all day.
Meanwhile, under the Bloomberg and Klein show, the answer is more testing. That's right, testing, testing, testing. No one can imagine what testing does to a school day. Children need as much structure as possible, but not when every other month, we have to disrupt the day with practice tests and real tests. And what good does it do?
Many Children go home today to one or to no parent. Often, they do what they please. When they arrive at school the next day with chewing gum and cheese doodles, with Ipods and video games, education is far from their minds. Try to teach a class where children don't want to learn, and then you are blamed because you don't manage a class well. Try and send a disruptor out of your class to an assistant principal or to a dean. They will simply send the child back to you so that YOU can contact the absent parent, not them. If you are able to finally contact an incompetent parent, and find once again that you, the teacher, are blamed for the problem, the assistant principal you send the child to will be on the same page as the parent.
"Why do you bother me about this?" says the typical assistant principal who does not want to be bothered in his private office. "The problem you are having comes from your lack of class management skills."
Is it any wonder why the teaching profession is the worst one can go into?
There is a very simple solution to bringing up student scores, and it does not include a workshop model, a super computer, more money, charter schools, longer school days, or longer school years. You bring up the scores by forcing parents to raise their children. You make it illegal for a child to disrupt a classroom. You fine parents whose children continuously make it difficult for the instructor to teach. You support your teachers with every resource possible. You make your professional teaching staff feel important and respected, not like little children who need to be micro-managed.
You don't do it like Bloomberg and Klein who have as much connection to a classroom as a dead body has to life. Certainly, they will shower us with statistics, trying to convince us their show is not a flop. But for those who slave away in the New York City School system, the reality is quite grim. Bloomberg and Klein will always have right wing anti-union tabloids like the New York Daily News to back them. Blaming parents for not raising their children will not give Bloomberg or Klein any votes nor make a newspaper popular. In fact, no newspaper will be brave enough to put the blame where it lies.
The crisis in public education today is releasing a plague of ignorance on American society that we will pay for in years to come. Yet, we will always have those who occupy corporate offices telling the teacher what he should do or not do. Their commitment to the teacher leaves a lot to be desired. The Bloombergs and the Kleins simply add fuel to the crisis.
Children must know their place and parents must be forced to raise them. The job of those in charge is to support the teacher. Anything less is just a show, a flop worse then anything Bialystock and Bloom could produce.