It's time for New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg and his Chancellor, Joel Klein to stop their pious lecturing to the rest of the nation promoting their vision of how to fix America's schools.
Valerie Strauss of the Washington Post, perhaps America's most perceptive observer of the education scene, puts it this way: "After 8 years as the czar of New York City's public schools, Klein might want to stop blaming other people for his failures."
Klein, a lawyer and not an educator has had his chance. He and Mayor Bloomberg were given absolute, unprecedented powers over the schools by the state legislature in 2002. Now as they begin the 9th school year under their regime, the scope of their failure is increasingly being understood.
On Monday, the New York Times devoted considerable space -- beginning on the front page -- to a discussion of New York State's unprecedented re-calculation of their standardized test scores. The state's admission that test scores were wildly inflated over the past few years has definitively proven that the "miracle" that Klein and Bloomberg are disgracefully still taking credit for, is fiction.
In reality it may be even worse, a deliberate fraud perpetrated on voters.
While the responsibility for the tests lie squarely with the State Education Department, city "educrats" were well aware that there was a problem. But that didn't temper their zeal to use the tainted statistics to aggrandize their boss before the election last year.
Just last month, Shael Polakow-Suransky, the deputy chancellor for performance and accountability for the city's Department of Education conceded at a meeting with Bronx Borough President Ruben Diaz, Jr. and Dr. Betty Rosa, who represents the borough on the state Board of Regents, that the city was aware of the problems with the test results even prior to last year's mayoral election.
"Imagine if your bank deposited $100,000 in your account in error," noted Dr. Rosa. "You may have done nothing wrong, unless you turned around and spent the money you knew wasn't yours. That's what was done in last year's mayoral election. The scores that the city knew were inflated were used to give an impression of success that was misleading and even fraudulent. And that was wrong." Alone among the Regents, Dr. Rosa had demanded last year that the suspicious test results be withheld.
The Times noted that 57 percent of voters who made education their top priority last year voted to re-elect the mayor, who won by just 5 points. Had just 2.5 percent known the truth and switched sides, the outcome of the election might have been very different.
We can't re-run the election, but the least we should expect from the Mayor Bloomberg and Chancellor Klein is to have the decency to stop spreading the fiction of a "New York Miracle" that simply never happened.
We cannot build the future of America's children on the quicksand of their deception.
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