Education School Alchemists at Work in New York City

Editorial and Opinion
By Donna Garner Hewitt

The New York Sun
February 26, 2004

Diana Lam's Wrong-Headed Plan

The deputy chancellor for teaching and learning, Diana Lam, who is in charge of curriculum, is fast becoming a curse to the city's public schools ["The Education-School Alchemists," Andrew Wolf, Opinion, February 6, 2004].

A Queens junior high teacher, R. M. Isaac, recently reported in a New York newspaper, "Teachers are warned not to correct errors with red ink because that color is 'aggressive.' Grammar is not taught because it is 'dull.' Children are encouraged to invent their own spelling so that they can discover the delights of creativity. Dictionaries are frowned on."

Surely the NYC parents are not going to put up with Ms. Lam's wrongheaded philosophy of education, which will hinder their children from mastering the all-important basic skills.

I have to confess my skepticism of Ms. Lam's objective judgment in choosing Voyager Passport as the intervention program for struggling NYC readers. The truth is finally out in Texas that the previous state-mandated test called the Texas Assessment of Academic Skills was barely a minimum skills test and that the TAAS results were badly inflated.

During the majority of the years that Ms. Lam was the superintendent of schools in San Antonio, Texas, Dr. Michael Moses (now the superintendent of Dallas Independent School District) was the Texas Commissioner of Education; and he, the Texas Education Agency, and Ms. Lam all reported dramatic academic gains made by students on the TAAS.

Therefore, when Ms. Lam applied for her job in NYC, undoubtedly she bragged about the rising TAAS scores in San Antonio under her administration. Never mind that nearly every school in Texas showed the same type of parent-pleasing, inflated TAAS gains.

When Ms. Lam applied for her NYC job, I doubt whether she mentioned that fact to Chancellor Klein.

Donna Garner Hewitt

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