A Time For Education

To The Editor:

Which is the biggest number: the total count of stars in the solar system, the sum of grains of sand on all Atlantic beaches, the dollar deficit of the U.S. economy, or the tally of useless re-organizations of the City’s school system since the mayor seized it a dozen years ago? If you picked the last choice, you’re off by a whisker. Come back in a few more years and who knows?

How did the DOE under chancellors Klein, Black and Walcott fulfill its promise of accountability to parents enraged by hasty closings, rule-busting class sizes and disclosures of sensitive information about their children? By humoring them with prattle about “empowerment” and then slamming the door in their faces.

And how have they defined the value of accountability in their dealings with teachers? By robbing them of their traditional rights, stomping on their dignity and laughing at the legacy of their profession.

And what form does the evidence of accountability to principals take? A lot of hot air and tons of “CYA” e-mails.
Will the current “networks” be retained, will we revert to the old district office system where people in charge of key areas such as personnel and special education were generally fairly accessible to school-based folks who needed them on the spot, will the new structure be a hybrid or mutation, or will it be a completely different house of cards aloft on swamp gas?

We’d better hope that City Hall gets an industrial-strength cleaning of managerial philosophy and Tweed gets a similar overhaul. De Blasio’s selection of Carmen Fariña is a promising sign and a significant cause for optimism.
She has had a long career in many capacities, including classroom educator, and is likely to be a dramatic improvement over her immediate predecessors.

She must act with courage, humility and insight to sweep politics and corporate flirtations aside, heed the counsel of legitimate experts and re-institutionalize a Dept. of Education as a defender and purveyor of quality education. We’ve had enough of the Emperor’s New Clothes. It’s time to get redressed.

Ron Isaac,
Fresh Meadows