Accountability Class size Class Size Matters Org Education Reform New York City Online Learning

Mercedes Schneider: The Leading Candidate for Mayor of New York City Has a Horrible Plan for the Schools

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Mayoral control of the schools was never a good idea. The current race for mayor of New York City demonstrates that it is a horrible idea. The leading candidate at the moment is Eric Adams, who was a police office, a member of the legislature, and borough president of Brooklyn. Certainly he has deep experience in municipal affairs.

But his plans for education are unsound. He doesn’t know what he doesn’t know.

Mercedes Schneider lives in Louisiana but she spotted Adams’ platform on the running the schools and called him out for the worst plan ever proposed.

She writes:

Eric Adams is running for mayor of New York City.

He wants to assign hundreds of students to a single teacher because technology could allow it, and it costs less.

Of course, in Adams’ mind, the ridiculous student-teacher ratio is fine because *great teachers* with technology (aka, kids on laptops) produces “skillful” teaching. Consider Adams’ words in this February 2021 candidate interview with Citizens Budget Commission president, Andrew Rein, when Rein asks Adams about how much a “full year school year” would cost. 

Apparently, Adams’ plan is the well-worn ed-reform idea of cost-cutting excellence:

Think about this for a moment, let’s go with the full year school year because that’s important to me. When you look at the heart of the dysfunctionality of our city, it’s the Department of Education. We keep producing, broken children that turn into broken adults and live in a broken system. 80% of the men and women at Rikers Island don’t have a high school diploma or equivalency diploma. 30% are reported based on one study to be dyslexic because we’re not doing what we should be doing in educating, we find ourselves putting young people in a place of being incarcerated. That must change. And so if you do a full year school year by using the new technology of remote learning, you don’t need children to be in a school building with a number of teachers, it’s just the opposite. You could have one great teacher that’s in one of our specialized high schools to teach 300 to 400 students who are struggling in math with the skillful way that they’re able to teach. 

Let’s look at our best mastered teachers and have them have programs where they’re no longer being just within a school building. We no longer have to live within the boundaries of walls, of locations. We can now have a different method of teaching and I’m going to have the best remote learning that we could possibly have, not just turning on the screen and having children look at someone or really being engaged.

When market-based ed reform hit Louisiana in 2011, one of my concerns as a classroom teacher was that I might be rated “highly effective” and *rewarded* with increased class sizes. That thinking was and still is an idiotic core belief of ed reform: A “great teacher” can continue to be great no matter how thin that teacher is spread in trying to meet the educational needs of any number of individual students.

When Michael Bloomberg was mayor, he once proposed a similar plan: Identify “great teachers” and double the size of their classes. No one thought that was a good idea. Adams wants the neediest children to be online in a class of 300-400 students. They will never get individual attention or help. Dumb idea.

But, wait! There’s more. After Adams got negative feedback for his proposal, he backtracked and said he had been misquoted or misunderstood. Leonie Haimson writes here that if most people learned one thing from the pandemic, it is that remote learning has limited and specific value. If students need extra attention, they will not be likely to get it in remote settings.

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