Sunday, May 10, 2009

Geoffrey Canada Supports Mayoral Control...And Is Supported By It

Geoffrey Canada is a well known name by now in the New York City school system. His Harlem Children's Zone does a whole lot more than the typical K-12, basically by trying to fill in parts of the students' lives that their parents do not. While Canada's project has received mostly positive reviews, his wading in on the issue of mayoral control is not what you would call a third party review.

The NY Times took down what he said at the latest pro-mayoral control press conference:

Mr. Canada said that while charter schools in the city were posting higher performance levels than the rest of the city schools, the whole system should be celebrating.

“I thought, ‘Isn’t that great — our children are doing really good!’ ” he said during a press conference on the charter school results at the Manhattan Charter School on the Lower East Side. “Suddenly I found out that some people weren’t happy, and some people started writing that we shouldn’t be happy that the scores are going up. They say maybe there is something fishy going on and our students aren’t reading so much better.”

Then he motioned to a group of reporters sitting in the front row and said with a flourish: “All the children in New York City did not have a clue what was going to be on that test. They didn’t know one question. They had to study a whole group of things to prepare for that test. And you know what, they had to be able to read and write. And that’s what they did.”
As the Times' article notes, Canada leads a lobbying group to preserve mayoral control. However, all Canada talks about is how the scores are going up, but not so much about how they're going up. To get the other side of things, all we have to do is reach down into the comments of this article.

One commenter mentioned Canada's conflict of interest since it is the Mayor that allows him to have the majority of the funding for his HCZ program and of course the ability to operate in the five boroughs. Then there are the teachers who claim that the test is getting easier, and that all teacher are supposed to do is train kids for the test...and nothing else. As another commenter said, Canada can talk all he wants about the improved scores, but the increased numbers aren't the issue. If a test gets easier, then it isn't hard to make a connection as to why the scores went up. The Times should really check out Gotham Gazette's excellent article on the issue and of course, ask some of the parents what they think as well.