Thursday, September 14, 2006

The Not-So-Public Part of the Public Schools: Lack of Accountability

I think this article raises some legitimate issues that everyone -- including Bloomberg and Klein -- would be wise to keep an eye on, but that being said, I think what's they're doing here is overall extremely positive.  As a NYC taxpayer, I'm THRILLED that they've raised $330 MILLION (!) in private money for NYC public schools over the past three years and if they want to use that money to try some innovative things outside the normal (read: highly bureaucratic) channels, I say go for it!  And in the context of a $15.4 BILLION annual budget, why would anyone get worked up over this ($56 million is less than 1/3 of 1% of the budget)?
the number of no-bid contracts for public education went from eight worth a total of $1.3 million in 2001, the last fiscal year before Mayor Bloomberg got control of the school system, to a high of 69 contracts worth $56 million in 2003.
Finally, this troubles me not at all:

The reliance on private vendors has led to another complaint among veterans of the public school system: that their own expertise is considered less valuable than that of outsiders. A company named Aussies Inc., has received more than $10 million since July 2003 for providing literacy and math coaches. Princeton Review, best known for its test-prep classes, has been paid more than $21 million in the past five years, most of it for “professional development” of math teachers.

“Using private goods and services to supplement public resources is common in American public education,” said David C. Bloomfield, the chairman of the educational leadership program at Brooklyn College, who has filed a complaint against the city over small school admissions. “What’s different today in New York is an apparent hostility toward public employees. What’s different is that there’s a prejudice against people who’ve been there.”

There are, of course, many great people and highly effective programs in the NYC public educational system, but it's the worst-kept secret in America that there was -- and still is -- huge amounts of incompetence.  I have no doubt that what Bloomfield is calling "a prejudice against people who’ve been there" is instead simply an openness to finding the best solution, regardless of where it resides.
September 13, 2006
On Education

The Not-So-Public Part of the Public Schools: Lack of Accountability

WHEN Mayor Michael R. Bloomberg and Chancellor Joel I. Klein gained unprecedented power over the vast archipelago of public education in New York more than four years ago, they were the beneficiaries of three beliefs widely held in the city.

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