Thursday, October 06, 2005

A Journalist With Kahones: Michael Winerip

From the daily howler:Michael Winerip thrills the soul with a look at one state’s easy test: BUT WHO WILL TEST THE TEST-MAKERS: Last June, the shills were out in force, pandering to the brilliant Mayor Bloomberg. Test scores had risen among New York City’s fourth-graders, and everyone knew that it just had to be due to the mayor’s brilliant policies. (Bloomberg even said so himself!) Of course, fourth-grade scores had risen all over the state of New York (details below), in districts where Bloomberg had no connection. But so what? People like the Times’ Gail Collins have played this game with urban children for decades. It isn’t worth seeking the truth about their lives and their interests; it’s all about pimping the perfumed and powerful. Here was the laughable, know-nothing way the Times editorialized on the subject:NEW YORK TIMES EDITORIAL (6/6/05): Skeptics, including Mr. Bloomberg's political opponents, of course rushed to challenge the results, suggesting that the test was too easy or that teachers spent too much time on test preparation. And it is indeed the case that city test scores rise and fall and rise again over time. But the latest results suggest that the schools are making progress—and that Mr. Bloomberg has every right to take a bow. As noted, since test scores had jumped all over the state, there was every reason to suspect that the tests may have been “too easy.” But Collins scoffed at the tiresome “skeptics”—and rushed to blow smoke at the mayor. (Headline: “Kudos for the Education Mayor.”) But then, mainstream press pseudo-liberals have shilled this way about urban schools for the past forty years. They always say things are getting better—and that their prince gets to take a deep bow. In doing so, they sell out urban kids’ interests, of course. But so what? It makes their perfumed class feel good. And that’s what this is often all about. Yes, New York’s fourth-graders scored higher last spring than they’d done in 2004. But a rise in test scores only matters if the two tests in question are equally difficult.And huzzah! This week, at long last, the Times’ superlative education writer, Michael Winerip, went to a school whose fourth-graders scored well and asked the locals why that had happened. In particular, he went to Public School 159 in the Bronx and spoke to its “respected veteran principal,” Frances Rosenstein. Why had PS 159's fourth graders done so much better this year? Uh-oh! The principal tattled:
Here's the full article from the Times

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