Friday, December 26, 2014

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The Call Blog: Past And Future Of Education In Spotlight

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The candidate's ideas may be significantly different from the elected's realities. It's one thing to win votes, it's another thing to win support from those in power. The sad reality for New York City stakeholders is that Albany controls our fate in too many ways. That fact will determine how much Mayor de Blasio can accomplish in year one.

Schools Chancellor Dennis Walcott is testifying at a City Council Education Committee hearing today, most likely for the last time. Lawmakers are examining the impact of standardized testing on public school students, and may vote on a resolution calling on the State to develop a new form of school accountability that doesn't rely so heavily on test scores.

The hearing comes the same day Mayor-elect Bill de Blasio gave his first major policy speech since the election. Speaking at the New York City Summit on Children, he repeated his campaign promise to tax the wealthiest New Yorkers to fund universal pre-kindergarten throughout the five boroughs. Despite likely opposition from Albany lawmakers, de Blasio says his "historic" margin of victory at the polls confirms "we can get it done." Do you agree?

Do you think Mayor de Blasio will secure free pre-K in 2014? In recent years under Mayor Bloomberg's administration, has standardized testing helped or hindered student progress? How will you remember Schools Chancellor Dennis Walcott? Who should replace him in the new year?

Send your thoughts using the link above.

I hope Mayor-elect Diblasio can secure free pre-K for every child because some parents are on a limited income and they might have a lot of kids espically single parents. Standardized testing under the Bloomberg Administration was no good because the kids didn't understand the tests, the tests should be given in spanish and other languages to the kids that can't speak englush that well so they can understand it and pass. I will remember Chancellor Walcott as Bloomberg's puppet

Upper West Side

Hi John,

Why since there is going to be a changing of the guard didn’t DeBlasio and Walcott think that they should not have attended their meetings together. DeBlasio is all talk and he’s counting on universal pre-kindergarten in all the five boroughs. We in the boroughs have been ignored for so long, something like 12 years and he’s going to address us for the first time by telling us that the wealthy shall pay for the poor in order for them to attend kindergarten. He should already know his choice of school chancellor already. To me he is far from ready to take on this job. Where has he been until this summit? Here we go again with this city council committee talking about the standardized testing and calling on the state for help. I have no idea just who will replace Walcott and as far as his performance goes he was just another hand picked puppet by Bloomberg. No personal offense towards Walcott but who could stand a chance against that dictator.

Thank you John,


Putting testing ahead of learning is stupid. You can pass a test only if you've learned something.

Port Richmond, SI


I think we need to stray away from powerful public figures assuming this position as we have experienced with Bloomberg's past recommendation with Cathie Black

The best thing to do is to hire a teacher who can run our school system.

From Kensington

I think Kathy Black would be an excellent choice for School Chancellor.

From Vito--ozone park

I think Dr. Kathleen Cashin will be an excellent choice. The Blasio's Administration should strongly consider her

Brooklyn, Cypress Hills

I think that it's important to return to the Learning Center model for Special Ed. students. The "full inclusion" that CTT offers is not servicing our children well.

Thanks, Ranai :-)

p.s. I'm currently unemployed with a Master's degree in Special Ed.

The curriculum is boring. The class sizes are huge. I teach HS and the students have at best a7-8th grade reading level. The worst is 2nd grade levels in general education. Common core is great but you cant implement this when a student is 15... My students are teaching me Fulani but i'm not teaching them science. The rubric is a joke, students are supposed to teach themselves.

Lee, gravesend

I think the school test are hurting the kids, as a college graduate I can still recall the standardized test and they are hard. Now i have my neighbors kids coming in for help to study foe these test and they all fail because the material is nowhere near what their teaching.

Tulio from jackson heights

Hi my name is Claire,

I recently have left the public school system and can say first hand that standardized testing has lowered the quality on my basic skills from 3rd grade (when Mayor Bloomberg was first put in office). As a high school student i found that i was in test prep each day for regents, instead of an actual class to learn the skills i would need for collage and life. I feel i have gotten through instead of being equipped with the information i need to start life.

First, Mayor Elect de Blasio ought to engage in a transparent Chancellor selection process that integrates the perspectives of public school parents and educators and offers the public a chance to comment on the potential new leader. Second, the selection of the new Chancellor ought to represent a total repudiation of the failed policies of Bloomberg and Walcott. The new leader ought to be an experienced educator, skilled administrator, visionary leader, and an advocate for REAL, evidence-based reforms that actually move the needle on student educational outcomes, such as reduced class sizes, smaller student to teacher ratios, broad-based and rich curricula, etc. Reforms that do not work are standards-driven high-stakes testing, co-locations, teacher evaluations using standardized tests, merit pay, and school report cards.

(Community Education Council, District 6)

This is an important objective. But Albany is not the only obstacle. You have a caller on the line that points out that space for these additional classrooms is an issue too. But, John, you are glossing over just how much of an issue it is:

Perhaps the most glaring omission in the capital planning, capacity and space utilization process is the absence of a total statement of need. The capital plan is simply a declaration of what projects DOE and School Construction Authority (SCA) hope to pursue with an anticipated budget; the plan is not a statement of what it would take to make the full array of capital repairs, provide sufficient numbers of classrooms to accommodate universal Pre-K and reduce class sizes to meet the standards established by the Campaign for Fiscal Equity, or even provide access to facilities such as hands on lab space to meet Regents or Common Core standards. The current capital plan, because of budgetary constraints, addresses only the worst repairs, Level 5 and some Level 4 conditions. Since there is no full statement of need, it is impossible to track how many of these urgent repairs started out as Level 1 or 2, when repairs would have been less costly or how many years these problems festered before being included in the capital budget. This does not seem like a plan for good stewardship of scarce public dollars.


If you're hungry, distracted, and tired, you can't concentrate and do well in school or on tests. We have to address poverty as much as we do teachers, curriculum, tests, etc.

Cathy on UES

Let's remember the tests are imposed top-down by the NYS Education Department on all schools. The City is not responsible for this decision. NYC makes up 35% of the test population. Yet, the State Ed. Dept and the Commissioner of Education, John King, have shown complete contempt for us by not holding any forums with parents down here to address our concerns about the Common Core and the poor tests that have been used to assess them. How is the state accountable in all this? This tells me they know the whole Common Core apparatus cannot withstand scrutiny and has been railroaded on all of us.




The inequity of lifestyle, financial burdens, and opportunity has always trickled down to the educational needs of children in this city, particularly children of color. The testing partitions between our communities are flawed, and based upon subjective ideologies. It's a shameful process that needs reform and a critical eye.

Michael in Woodside

Smaller class rooms with an emphasis on individual learning

Greenwich village

Universal PreK will help students socialize and prepare their Pre Academic skills they require for the rigor of Kindgarten!

New York, NY 10019

Class size reduction across the system, Community Schools and more CTE high schools should also be De Blasio administration progressive education agenda. A classroom with 32 kids or more, poverty and illiteracy in households, and high dropout makes it very difficult for teachers to be accountable for the academic success of public school kids.

Washington Heights


I hope you get around to speaking about the phony stats that indicate that the graduation rates went up during the Klein- Bloomberg era. Sure they did! With phony programs like Credit Recovery, it was so simple to convince students who cut classes or did not show up for school to come in for a day or two, take a very simple test (write an "essay" or solve a few problems and receive credit for doing literally nothing.This practice was widespread and naturally many people were suckered into thinking that there was real progress made in graduating more students. Teachers were pressured to go along with the scam in order to keep their jobs and not be considered "unsatisfactory. The AWOL students gets the diploma, the Principal gets a higher graduation rate and the teachers are left to look foolish because they believe that a diploma should be earned and not handed out for doing little or nothing for it. This was such a fraud that the public should be notified about this practice.


I truly believe that standardized testing does not leave any room for teaching. I remember when I was back in school, it was really fun being part of a classroom. however teachers spend more time filling out paperwork then instructing students for a greater and rewarding learning experience. Years back, there were times when there was more teacher- student interactions which made learning more effective and greater learning results.

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