The Bronx Plan Needs Vetting by All New Yorkers: The Re-Renewal Plan

NYC DOE Chancellor Richard Carranza Portrait

The Bronx Plan should be vetted by communities all over New York City, especially since Mayor de Blasio’s performance has not been good.  Communities should be actively engaged in assessing the Bronx Plan, particularly since student test performance has suffered and there have been school closings resulting from that and greater demand for charter schools (which I do not support).  Also part of any plan for the lowest performing students is what has happened to their parents’ educational attainment, again considering the fact that one out of every four adults in the city does not have a high school diploma (that fraction could be bigger or even much bigger in the communities involved in the Bronx Plan).  New York City is going from Renewal to Re-Renewal and this is no joking matter.

I spoke to de Blasio in Albany at a labor breakfast and he told me that he would speak to Chancellor Fariña about coordinating high school equivalency support within the Chancellor’s Council.  So what happened?  Did the chancellor reject his idea?  And since years have gone by and I say things are much worse based on the original numbers, I feel that the mayor and the Department of Education should provide the high school equivalency numbers for each year of the de Blasio administration so that we can compare them to the past.  Transparency is essential and the DOE is responsible for lots of TASC or high school equivalency programs.  And I later met and sent information to Chancellor Fariña and there was never a response of any kind.  And I blame her for not improving parent involvement that much during her years in power.  Technology such as Skype and FACEBOOK can reach parents that do not attend meetings, resulting in immediate participation and feedback that could produce great results.  I was also a guest speaker at DOE Headquarters where Chancellor Fariña addressed the CECs.  I later emailed those districts and nobody ever got in touch with me.  Here is the content of that talk.

This was sent to lots of people in February of 2015 and Diane Ravitch was also sent pertinent information.

The fight over education has captured the attention of the entire nation.  This audience has not been told the truth about what is going on.  Martin Danenberg is quoted in former-Chancellor Joel Klein’s new book.  Danenberg has also talked to Jonathon Kozol, the Harvard sociologist and former-Mayor Cory Booker who is now United States Senator.  If Americans want to know what has gone wrong, they have to read what this influential educator knows and reveals about politics and education. Martin Danenberg has spoken to Barack Obama and promoted education with the presidents of the Dominican Republic and El Salvador.  He is helping the New York State Education again right now (I have been called upon by the Department of Education to check on high school equivalency test funding under Eliot Spitzer and Governor Cuomo).  “El Quijote del GED” has had hundreds of thousands of readers on the internet. 

Telling a story about education and where the United States is failing has been done well recently, but it has its own failings.  Diane Ravitch in the Reign of Error: The Hoax of the Privatization Movement and the Danger to America’s Public Schools.  What is her failing?  She was not a teacher and she relies on information provided by others who do not have the answers to help the poor.  A best-selling book, The Einstein Enigma by José Rodrigues Dos Santos asks the question which is addressed to Albert Einstein by David Ben-Gurion, the former prime minister of Israel and that question is what is in the Bible that is consistent with science.  The answer was very simple.  The book is a fusion of science, thriller, and religion.  In Genesis it says let there be light. And that was the answer given by Einstein in The Einstein Enigma.

In my new book, there is an answer to the failure of millions of students each year on state and national tests.  No, the answer is not Let there be light.  The answer is Teachers do not know how to teach to the test.    In my new book, I write that teaching to the test is just like the job of the pilot whose job is to land the airplane safely.  The applause that we hear upon landing at an airport always takes place as people are thrilled to land safely. Or remembering that moment when one of the greatest landings in the history of aviation may come to mind.  The feeling captured when the world heard these famous words “Houston.  Tranquility Base here.  The Eagle has landed,” is how we should have felt in the past and can feel as more of our students pass their tests.  The failing rate is unnecessarily great.

 Profesor Martin Danenberg “El Quijote del GED” has been in education since 1967.  He gives his analysis of one of the most well-known efforts to improve education.  The Bloomberg-Klein administration has attracted attention all over the United States and it has influenced the White House.  He points out that there could have been universal parent involvement, universal graduation and universal promotion through passing state tests.  Instead the city of New York got some school closings, principal training, innovation that was never shared with other schools, and a mini-war between the teacher’s union and Bloomberg-Klein.  We can see contradictions in many things.

 Profesor Martin Danenberg writes about Diane Ravitch’s book Reign of Error and Jonathon Kozol’s Amazing Grace.  He is critical of both authors because in writing about the poor and minorities, they never realized that millions of people never even earned a high school equivalency and there was no mention of that in their attempt to help communities. He also writes about the provocation that he experienced by the office of Mayor Cory Booker of Newark, New Jersey, where the reentry department did not help people coming out of jail with their high school equivalency. 

 In the end Martin Danenberg writes about important issues in education.  His analysis of the debate whether charter schools are more effective than neighborhood schools is revealing and even Diane Ravitch could not explain it the way he does .  The answers lie in two areas, teaching the teachers to prepare their students better for their state tests and much greater parent involvement among the minorities whose parents do not even attend school meetings.  We can succeed, but not the way things are presently being done.

 Watch Congresswoman Alejandra Ocasio-Cortez talk about making all schools great schools in New York City and she does not understand the problems well enough.  Diane Ravitch was with her at this town hall meeting.  She is sounding more like the typical elected official who fails (even Trump) and she has to open up her mind more and provide help now.  Diane Ravitch told people several years ago that she now feels that not even one percent of student performance should be counted in teacher ratings and that was my very own idea (could it be that she got the idea from me).  I was writing to her back then.  And I have advocated for years also that more minority students should be able to attend annexes of the elite schools such as Brooklyn Tech and Stuyvesant in their own communities and nobody has written back a response.  Mayor de Blasio has been informed about this.  Nobody listens to me.  And today we learn once more that only 7 of 895 students who made the elite school are Black.  And it appears that even recently graduated charter students have either failed to make it or found private schools to attend with the help of charter schools.  Among other things, it would be nice if a group of charter school students would take the test so that we could see if they are eligible or not after the education that they have received.

I have sent my Educational Report to two people at the DOE to give to Chancellor Carranza and he should respond to what I sent him.  The failure to do so is what I call “corruption of the mind” and this needs to be addressed by communities as well.  The extra math and English instruction will be critical, but how will it be done (this is probably the part that will lead to failure again)?  Let the DOE explain that now.  Suffolk County Community College had a program that helped students who failed their college placement exams for years and that program failed.  Suffolk County Community then changed tactics and did what I would have done and could have explained to them and that second program succeeded.  New Yorkers want this new program to succeed and they do not want to see failure even during the first year.  Here is the Bronx Plan to read about.  Again we need transparency now from the DOE and the mayor and we need for the press to be much more informative than it has been in the past. My criticism of Hempstead is strong (and can be read here) and I have been on the mark there predicting no change.  The New York City DOE should investigate what has taken place there since that small district with its grassroots school board could not create improvement to satisfy New York State.  And that district got advice from outside sources that anticipated great results.  The failure to investigate what took place would be that “corruption” that I previously alluded to.  And perhaps the groups on the Hempstead team were doing things that looked much better on paper (and in practice) than what the DOE is offering now.  A thorough investigation is in order, not an announcement that may easily lead to continued failure.

As my readers know, I am involved with people from the Parkland community in Florida where the Marjorie Stoneham Douglas Massacre took place on February 14, 2018.  There we are fighting together so that all schools with have panic buzzers to speed help from the police to the schools.  New Jersey’s governor has signed Alyssa’s Law and 2,500 schools are expected to get this kind of protection soon.  Martin’s most important up to date work was published in Jewish Business News and it is his Educational Report for Our Nation

Leave a comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *