Principal Marcella Sills of PS 106 in Far Rockaway, Queens reportedly showed up to work on time for the first time in seven years on Monday following a Sunday exposé at the New York Post that made national news. The Post took this opportunity to take a jab at Mayor Bill de Blasio entitled The Failure Factory at PS 106, writing
If [de Blasio] and [Chancellor Carmen Farina] are unwilling to close down a school as rotten as this one, surely they have an alternative that will turn things around quickly. We emphasize quickly — because children stuck in failing schools today can’t afford to wait years.
Chancellor Farina says the situation at PS 106 is “unacceptable.” The mayor admits it’s “deeply troubling.”
But it’s something else, too: It’s their problem now. And they’ll be judged on whether they can fix it.
While it’s true that PS 106 is now de Blasio’s responsibility, the Post is far too easy on Michael Bloomberg. While Bloomberg vowed to close failing public schools, his criteria for what constituted failure made this policy so worthless that PS 106 received an A grade. The New York Times describes the grading system:
Mr. Bloomberg took the idea of grading schools to a new level, inviting data experts to design a model that did not penalize schools with high populations of disadvantaged students, in the hope that they could be judged more fairly against affluent schools.
The result was one of the most complex grading systems in the country, which compared schools serving similar student populations and focused on how much progress students made each year on exams — not just their overall performance.
Greg Pollowitz at National Review writes,
To sum that up, you have schools that are graded an “A,” but all that really means is that they’re the best of the worst schools in the city. That’s worthless information to a parent, and it obscures schools that, even if they are improving, are still failing their students.
I don’t like Bill de Blasio, but it’s premature to hang this scandal around his neck. It was Michael Bloomberg who played pocket dictator in New York while ignoring larger problems right under his nose.
Update: Linked at The Political Hat.