How to improve NYC schools

Well, it’s that season again, where we struggle to understand what’s wrong with our schools, both in New York and nationally.

The Bitemaster first became interested in education policy by reading Fred and Grace Hechinger in The New York Times. More recently, the Bitemaster put forth his education manifesto and mocked Bloomberg’s education failures.

So where do we stand today?

Mayor De Blasio did hire Carmen Fariña, who was an outstanding school principal. But neither De Blasio nor Fariña know what they’re doing; they have no concept of the big picture. So it devolves to the Bitemaster to fix that.

  1. A school system of a million students cannot be run as a federation of little fiefdoms.
  2. It needs process control of the kind that industrial engineers design.
  3. It needs a clear definition of the kind of output the system should generate. E.g., what skills should a student demonstrate in order to be granted a high school diploma?
  4. It needs rigorous measurement (i.e., testing).

That’s the big picture. Now for some of the lesser items:

  • Parents don’t know much about education but have strong feelings anyway. We’ll need some political genius to convince parents to buy into a system where they will have no input.
  • Charter schools cannot scale up to a system that educates 1,000,000 children. Charter schools are divisive and a distraction.
  • Money is not the main problem. Bloomberg doubled the schools budget with no appreciable improvement.
  • Teachers are not the problem. There is no research demonstrating that NYC teachers are any worse than teachers elsewhere in the country.
  • Kids are not all the same. We need accelerated tracks for some children, remedial tracks for others, and vocational tracks for those who don’t have the aptitude for academics.

Now that the Bitemaster has explained it all to you, read what Newsweek wrote about The Best Schools In The World

4 thoughts on “How to improve NYC schools

  1. Isn’t it possible that charter schools like Success Academy are the solution to the “special tracks” problem? Aren’t some of them in fact trying to fill those gaps in the NYC public school system?

    • Charters are not a solution for educating a million students, and they don’t claim to provide special tracks for special students. In fact just the opposite: they claim to do a better job with the same heterogeneous mix of students that the public schools have.

      The point of tracking is that it improves the efficiency and cost-effectiveness of a school system with a million students.

      As for what the charters are “trying” to do, they’re trying to make money. Many charters are run by for-profit management companies. And the non-profit ones pay their top educrats astronomical salaries.

      Still, as I said in another post, Success Academy might have something to teach us about how to improve the outcomes of our public school system.

  2. Re tracking, many readers of the recent NY Times article, “20% of NYS Students Opt-Out of Standardized Testing [ http://www.nytimes.com/2015/08/13/nyregion/new-york-state-students-standardized-tests.html?&moduleDetail=section-news-1&action=click&contentCollection=N.Y.%20%2F%20Region&region=Footer&module=MoreInSection&version=WhatsNext&contentID=WhatsNext&pgtype=article ]” think that charter schools like Moskowitz’s pick and choose their students just as the public schools do for G&T programs.

    I’d love to see someone like Ms. Moskowitz design a better program for special needs students.

    As far as making a profit goes, perhaps schools like Moskowitz’s make money because they *are* more efficient and more effective.

    • > Pick and choose: It’s apples and oranges. The charters, as I said above, “claim to do a better job with the same heterogeneous mix of students that the public schools have,” while Gifted and Talented programs make no such claim.

      > As for profit, Success Academy Charter Schools is a 501c3 organization.

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