Tuesday, December 27, 2005

In Middle Class, Signs of Anxiety on School Efforts

There are a lot of really tough issues here.  As usual, Eva is exactly right and -- I hope you're sitting down -- I think Randi Weingarten is as well (though only because, for once, she has the good sense to agree with Eva).


That sort of disillusionment, if it translates into an exodus, would be difficult for the city. "It's the middle class that makes the New York City school system better than Philadelphia or Chicago," said Eva S. Moskowitz, a District 2 parent who is chairwoman of the City Council's Education Committee and will be executive director of a new charter school in Harlem. "If we become a school system of the exclusively poor, we are going to be in big trouble."

There are moral reasons to address the educational inequity that exists for the poorest students, but there are also moral and pragmatic reasons to focus on those who are better off financially, Ms. Moskowitz said. The Bloomberg administration, she said, has not confronted the "problem of the top quartile with the zeal that it should."


Randi Weingarten, the president of the teachers' union, faulted the administration for using a "Robin Hood" approach. "You have to simultaneously work to help your struggling students in particular schools and keep your middle class - you have to do both these things at the same time," she said.

"When you do one at the expense of the other, you get the rebellion and revolt you see in District 3," she said, referring to the Upper West Side, where some parents have complained that their children were suddenly being shut out of admission to top public school programs.

In Middle Class, Signs of Anxiety on School Efforts
Published: December 27, 2005

The Bloomberg administration's efforts to invest immense attention and resources on low-income students in low-performing schools are causing growing anxiety among parents from middle-class strongholds who worry that the emphasis is coming at their children's expense.

Some of the very changes that Chancellor Joel I. Klein has made his hallmark - uniform programs in reading and math for most schools; drilling that helped produce citywide gains last spring on standardized tests; changes in rules for admission to programs for the gifted and talented, designed to make them more equitable - have caused unease among that important constituency.

In interviews and at public meetings, dozens of parents from the middle class and upper middle class have complained of an increasing focus on standardized test preparation and remedial work, of a decreasing focus on science education and the arts, of large class sizes and of the absence of a powerful mechanism for parental influence...

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