THE BLOG
06/01/2010 05:12 am ET | Updated May 25, 2011

Bloomberg and Klein's Contempt of Court

I watch a lot of Law and Order. Judges are always issuing injunctions. If someone violates a court order, the judge throws them in jail for contempt of court. It's time to do the same for New York City Mayor Michael "Moneybags" Bloomberg and Schools Chancellor Joel "King" Klein. They have shown nothing but contempt for the public for a long time. Now they are in contempt of a court order. Hopefully, they get to spend some time in jail before Bloomberg's money bails them out.

Last week Justice Joan B. Lobis of the State Supreme Court in Manhattan blocked the closing of Jamaica High School and Beach Channel High School in Queens; Christopher Columbus High School and Global Enterprise High School in the Bronx; Paul Robeson High School in Brooklyn; and the Choir Academy of Harlem and Norman Thomas High School in Manhattan. According to the judge, a rump review board that ignored the input of parents, teachers, students, and community residents and then ruled with Moneybags and the King did not satisfy due process.

Bloomberg and Klein are now circumventing the court order. They ordered the DOE to send notices to families assigning students to high schools for September, but not these schools. They should be locked up.

Their plan is to starve the schools and the teachers union that supports keeping them open into submission. They have been depressing enrollment at the schools over the last four years and creating problems there to justify closing them. There have been more altercations in classrooms between students and teachers in the targeted schools this year because the younger, more flexible teachers are already gone. Many of the teachers who remain are embittered by the way they have been treated. They know Moneybags and the King are trying to force them out because they are higher paid.

Meanwhile, Bloomberg and Klein are cooking the books to justify their phony "school reforms." Graduation rates rise, not because education is better, but because when they close the larger comprehensive high schools, they replace them with new schools that are given more resources and are allowed to cut corners. A common gimmick used to mislead the public, the media, and state officials, is called "credit recovery." Essentially, students are given course credits they never earned. In April 2008, The New York Times documented the case of a senior at Wadleigh Secondary School in Harlem. Although he rarely attended English class, the student got the credit he needed to graduate by completing three essay assignments that took him about 10 hours to complete. Although the principal claimed the makeup assignments were "rigorous," the English teacher boycotted the graduation ceremony in protest. When questioned, Schools Chancellor Klein defended credit recovery as "a legitimate and important strategy" and claimed there was "no indication" the practice been abused. However, the State Education Department, after seeing a copy of "independent study" guidelines in use at Wadleigh and a number of other schools launched an investigation. The practice calls into question claims by Bloomberg and Klein that their reforms have raised standards and improved graduation rates. They should go to jail.

Many of the new schools are also being permitted to allow students to accumulate credits faster by giving them more credit for the same amount of time, i.e., 1.25 credits per course as opposed to just 1. When students think they are closer to graduation, it makes it easier to cajole them to finish. There is no uniform policy in the system so there is a free-for-all as administrators try to keep their schools alive or to win the favor of Bloomberg and Klein. They should be locked up.

There is little accountability within the system itself. Most experienced people in central administration have been replaced by twenty-something kids from the Ivy League with no school experience, or by careerist "yes-men" who will not question Bloomberg and Klein -- who countenance no dissent. Serious educators who remain are afraid to go public because they will be punished.

Justice Lobis, please send Bloomberg and Klein to jail!