This is not a good time to be taking on the anti-bullying legions, but Winnie Hu does a terrific job describing the newest runaway behavioral modification fad in schools in her front page New York Times story from the other day, Bullying Law Puts New Jersey Schools on Spot. The law,? according to Hu,
- Has 18 pages of ?required components? for the antibullying policy that each school must adopt;
- Requires each school in the state to have an antibullying specialist and an antibullying coordinator;
- Sets up a system to grade each school on its antibullying efforts and ?educators who failed to comply could lose their licenses.?
There's more, of course.? ?I think this has gone well overboard,? Richard Bozza, head of the New Jersey Association of School Administrators, tells Hu. ?Now we have to police the community 24 hours a day.?
If schools have felt burdened by being turned into social service agencies, their new anti-bullying duties should seal the deal:? they have to do everything.? (I would be curious to know what Geoffrey Canada thinks of this.)
In my February post, Stop the Anti-bullying Bus, I Want to Get Off, I wrote,
In the hell of good intentions, the anti-bullying campaign has got to be on one of the lower rings.
In that post I detailed the anti-bullying policy in my own district, in New
Mike's ?Stop the Madness!? plea to New York makes a lot of sense. ?But, for better or worse, education governance is nothing if not political, which, as we know, is nothing if not a tad bloody.? And New Yorkers were reminded of that again yesterday, when the state's comptroller pulled the plug (New York Times) on a multi-million-dollar no-bid contract to Wireless Generation to set up a data-base for New York City's schools.
The intricate system of checks-and-balances that is a hallmark of our aging republic often seems more checks than balances. And the subject of Mike's madness essay yesterday,? a court battle between State Ed and the state's teacher union (round 1 to the union), sure seems worthy of an insanity verdict.? And today, as I read comptroller Thomas DiNapoli's decision, I would tend to agree with State Ed spokesman Johnathan Burman, who told the Times' Sharon Otterman,
The comptroller has allowed political pressure to get in the way of vital technology that would help our students.
In this case, however, perhaps political pressure was a good thing.
Indeed, the $27-million Wireless Generation contract to monitor student performance is the result of a rather tangled web ? WG was purchased by Rupert Murdoch's News Corporation in November, just after it announced it was giving Joel Klein, who had pushed the WG contract forward as the city's education chancellor, a job.? Given WG's sterling reputation (it was already running a
It's back to school ? and perhaps to court -- for the New York State Board of Regents (NYBOR) and the New York State Education Department (NYSED).? On Wednesday a state judge in Albany ruled that student test scores on state exams could not be used for 40 percent of a teacher's evaluation and that NYBOR's and NYSED's cut scores for grading teachers was unfairly slanted to favor those student scores. (See Jacob Gershman in the Wall Street Journal, Sharon Otterman in the New York Times, Rachel Monahan in the Daily News,Geoff Decker at Gotham Schools, ?Yoav Gonen in the NY Post, Robert Lowry at the New York Council of School Superintendents, and the National School Boards Association.)
[pullquote]It was pretty radical, by New York standards, ordering school districts to evaluate teachers using student performance data as one of the key measures of teacher competence.[/pullquote]
The ruling was the result of a suit filed in June by New York State United Teachers (NYSUT), the Empire State's famously powerful (it claims 600,000 members) ?teacher union. Though the decision received wide coverage (per above) and throws New York school districts a curve (they are supposed to have an evaluation policy in place by September 1), it's not clear that the decision will have any major implications for other states that are considering linking teacher evaluations to test scores (except as inducement to make sure
Having been stiffed by many a good (and bad) source (including a few educators) in my career as a journalist, I was tempted to advise Michael Winerip to lay off Michelle Rhee for his Eager for Sptlight, But Not If It Is On a Testing Scandal column in today's New York Times. But despite some petulant prose ? ?she preens for the cameras? -- and questionable assessments ? has Rhee's reputation really ?rested on her schools' test scores?? ? Winerip is right: Rhee really should discuss the brewing Washington, DC, public school cheating charges that a USA Today reporting team unearthed last May.
Is DC different than Atlanta, which Winerip has written about (see here)?? You bet.? The reporting on the latter case (by the Atlanta Journal-Constitution) was ongoing, for several years, before it hit nationwide scandal status.? And Atlanta's superintendent, Beverly Hall, was in charge of the district, before, during, and after the scandal broke ? she retired just before the hugely damning governor's investigation was released in July.? Rhee, in charge of DC schools for barely three years, can hardly be said to have presided over a cheating scandal, but not talking to USA Today, a reputable national news outlet, surely doesn't do her protests of innocence (on the ?Tavis Smiley? show, according to Winerip) any good.
Face it; one of the more egregious faults of our public school system is its lack of responsiveness ? to students,
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About the Editor
Peter Meyer is an adjunct fellow with the Thomas B. Fordham Institute. Since 1991, Meyer has focused his attentions on education reform in the United States, an interest joined while writing a profile of education reformer E.D. Hirsch for Life. Meyer subsequently helped found a charter school, served on his local Board of Education (twice) and, for the last eight years, has been an editor at Education Next.
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