Re Bloomberg is Rising to Schools Challenge

Letter to the Editor
New York Daily News
January 15, 2004
(Not published)

Re: Bloomberg is Rising to Schools Challenge

Richard Schwartz suggests optimism is warranted in the mayor's education reforms because of the administration's recent steps to curb school violence and end social promotion. (Bloomberg is Rising to Schools Challenge, January 15, 2004)

But not all critics are optimistic, or will feel compelled to give the mayor credit for "throwing reform in high gear," as Schwartz suggests appropriate. Some of our nation's most distinguished cognitive scientists, reading researchers and mathematicians, have repeatedly warned that the foundation of the mayor's instructional reforms are fatally flawed. They claim his universal reading and math reforms, now instituted in the early grades, and so critical to prepare students for the all important standardized tests, are content deficient and without sound evidence of success.

Former US assistant Secretary of Education, Diane Ravitch, herself a critic of the mayor's instructional reforms,in her comment hints at her own concern for the administration's decisions on appropriate and effective instruction for students at risk, under the new retention policy.

If these notable experts are correct, there has been no "triumph of standards" and the strict retention policy (arguably in and of itself with merit) holds no promise to improved reading and math achievement.

While some may feel solace in knowing the mayor can be voted out if his education reforms are not successful, it will be little solace for the thousands of children and families who stand to lose the most if it fails.

Elizabeth Carson
New York

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