To The Editor:
Mayor Bloomberg claims that our educational system has made “incredible progress” under his reforms. His evidence is the increase in the graduation rate. Many people blast this graduation rate as due to “diploma inflation” but you continue to be a hawk on these phony “reforms.” After all these years, can’t you admit that there’s another side to the story?
This “inflation” effect, code-named the Michelin Factor after the car tire mascot, may be an example of the “defensive education” that principals and teachers are forced to practice to protect their careers and save their schools. They are under pressure from the Dept. of Education to “look good” and that’s defined almost entirely by the smudged face of marketable statistics. The DOE is far more concerned about a school’s Progress Report than it is about legitimate achievement, no matter how miraculous. They’d prefer a higher graduation rate with lower actual achievement to a slightly lower graduation rate with vastly superior academic results.
Educators may subconsciously inflate grades to be left in peace by their supervisors. It’s only natural and not a failure of integrity. It’s called the survival instinct. They’d rather their futures travel on smooth pavement than bumpy road. The DOE craves illusions that give them credibility and they’ve served notice on the education community that it had better give them what they want or else.
When the propaganda sunsets, the whole truth will see the light of day.