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Bloomberg Is The System

Jose Vilson Jose Leave a Comment

Today, Greg Kristof of the Huffington Post reported that Michael Bloomberg has announced that he wants to have schools call up parents and deliver teacher evaluations directly to parents. This comes on the heels of the passing of a bill that clearly delineates guidelines for parent-school interaction when it comes to teacher evaluations. Michael Bloomberg, in his usual pomp, went on the radio to reaffirm his disappointment in the bill and the compromises made to pass it. A quote:

“Let me tell you what we’re going to do,” Bloomberg said on the WOR radio show. “We are going to have our schools call every single parent. We’re talking about fourth to eighth grade… We will tell you, you are entitled to this information and if you want it say yes right now and we will send it to you.”

Let’s be perfectly clear here. First, Bloomberg’s intentions have been transparent in that he prefers to turn public schools into parts of a huge corporate conglomerate, an idea he continues to reaffirm every time he speaks about education. The general public understands this, and even the media reporting on his efforts have taken a more critical tone about his record. Much of that has to do with the pressure from progressive groups within and outside the city, but some of it also has to do with the general public getting a decade’s worth of evidence and seeing more turmoil than ever before.

As the old axiom goes: the emperor continues to shed his clothes.

Second, we already have enough information on some of the facets of teacher evaluations to know that we have little reason to trust it until it becomes more sophisticated and maturates over time. If we know that the 40% of the teacher evaluation is dedicated to state exams until this piece is considered substandard then it’s 100%, we know we have a long way to go before this matter is settled.

Most importantly, Michael Bloomberg’s attitude towards parents has rarely demonstrated openness. We have plenty of examples of times when a main liaison would run away from parents demanding answers, parents’ mics getting shut down at hearings, and layers of bureaucracy added to our infrastructure to ensure confusion on the part of parents less informed about what’s happening in the school system. Our central offices can print out all the infographics and flyers they want, but in no way will that replace the general tenor of Bloomberg’s rhetoric to parents.

I don’t have much of a problem with parents knowing about my teaching so long as the right information gets out and doesn’t put me in a defensive position. What I do have a problem with is Bloomberg’s inference that he wants parents and teachers to have a distrust for each other. This call can make places where this relationship is already tenuous just downright hostile. This doesn’t a good school make. If anything, it perpetuates the idea that schools stand alone from the surrounding community, and, as an institution, is not subject to substantive participation.

Making robo-calls to parents and delivering teacher evaluations to parents may backfire. Then, his next effort commences. When you’re so well-resourced and such a position of power, you have all the time in the world to bully the people serving the million plus children of the city. After hearing about this news, and reflecting on the massive sweeping changes we’ve had in this country, I realized that Bloomberg, after failing at public education, can blame it on the system, one that existed before him.

Yet, because of all the changes and the resources he’s used to keep his reforms going, Mayor Michael Bloomberg is in fact the system. He’ll have to go on record for all of this, too.

Jose, who had this itch to scratch …

About Jose Vilson

José Luis Vilson is a math educator, blogger, speaker, and activist. For more of my writing, buy my book This Is Not A Test: A New Narrative on Race, Class, and Education, on sale now.

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