Chapter Sixty-one: How to Fail Students and Fire Teachers, 102
Update: June 25, 2013I wrote in Chap. 60 about the DOE's campaign of using students and their test scores against teachers. There is much more to be said about this. It's the future.
Graduation at Jonathan Levin High School is now a thing of the past. Many June Regents results, however, are still things of the future. This morning we held our graduation ceremony at the Lovinger Theater at Lehman College without knowing for certain who exactly was graduating.
So far at least 3 students at this school failed the English Regents with a 61. As disclosed in chapter 60, those same raw numbers for any previous test would have passed them with 65-68. "Objective data" for the teachers who taught those Regents courses has been skewed downward. Students have been sacrificed in order to distort data prejudicially against teachers. The next time you hear a politician or DOE lackey or eduction pundit mouth the bromide, "It's all about the students," laugh an extra bitter tear into whatever you're drinking.
I might add this anecdote here as long as we're talking about manipulating data prejudicially against teachers. The new evaluation system calls for teachers to be fired or not according to that 40% of the plan that is student performance. It is now in the interest of the DOE to fail students, a catch-22 of epic proportions. The very system that is supposed to educate children benefits from failing to educate children.
You have to wonder, then, about a series of events that took place at Jonathan Levin H.S. in January of this year, 2013. I make no judgements, draw no conclusions about these events. If it sounds like an accusation, then maybe you're not following your Danielson rubrics carefully enough in observing this blog objectively and without making inferences.
I and one other teacher were teaching Regents ELA courses to regular ed. juniors during the fall 2012. The expectation was that these 55 students would be taking the ELA Regents in January. That is how things had been done here during the past 5 years when the school was receiving grades of "C", "B", and "A". This was the description of the course as we undertook it in Sept. Although we were told by our A.P. of supervision to use only Prentice Hall materials, we knew that we had to adapt Prentice Hall for Regents prep and that is what we did. Both of us had taught Regents prep frequently in the past.
In early January 2013 a school aide appeared at the doors of our classes with individual Regents schedules for these students. As they were passed around, we noticed that none of these students had been scheduled to take the English Regents. No one in administration had said a word about this to either of us. At no point during the semester had it been suggested that these were not Regents prep courses after all. No rationale was given. No explanation was given. Nothing at all was said.
The only students scheduled to take the Jan. 2013 English Regents exam were ESL students who were mostly low level English language learners with little or no chance to pass an English test. It is heart-breaking to see students who do not speak English sit for 3 hours or more for an exam in a language that they don't speak. One student out of about 40 passed.
In Jan. 2013 Jonathan Levin H.S. was sitting on the edge of the DOE guillotine but its neck had not yet been inserted into the deadly machine. The school had received a "D" after 2 "C" grades (after a "B" and an "A"). There was still a chance to avert the death sentence. At this critical moment, students were programmed into Regents exams in such a way as to yield the worst possible results.
Shortly after the Jan. 2013 Regents, we were told that our neck had been thrust into the DOE guillotine and that the only chance we had for keeping our head would be to put on a big show at one of those great town hall meetings that have now become a tradition in the New York City public school system. These are meetings organized by closing schools and attended by a DOE lackey, usually Marc Sternberg, who pretends to listen to the community while surfing the web on his mobile device. The condemned school invites supporters in the community to express their displeasure at the closing. Jonathan Levin put on a rousing exhibition on Feb. 17 that went on from 6 p.m. until after 11 p.m. Hundreds of supporters came to protest the idea that closing schools is "reform". The DOE "data" was presented with the interpretation that the school was failling. Our "data" was presented that showed how the school had been sabotaged and gave the lie to the DOE interpration of the "objective data".
To no avail. On March 11, 2013 another of those recently developed DOE public school traditions took place. The Panel for Educational Policy (a group of mostly Bloomberg shills and lackeys) met at Brooklyn Tech H.S., and voted Jonathan Levin out of existence along with 22 other city schools. An hour and a half of pleading by a parade of beautiful 6 and 8 and 10 and 12-year-old children failed to soften the hardened hearts of the PEP. The chopping block felt nothing.
In the case of Jonathan Levin, by March 11, 2013 the DOE had more "objective data" to interpret. They had a very poor pass rate on the January 2013 Regents to use to drop the guillotine blade.