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Mayor Bloomberg's 'End to Social Promotion of Third Graders' -- Education Reform or Political Lip Service?

April 15, 2004

DL21C's Education Committee hosted New York City Council Member and Education Committee Chair Eva Moskowitz, who spoke about "Mayor Bloomberg's 'End to Social Promotion of Third Graders' -- Education Reform or Political Lip Service?"

Councilmember Moskowitz gave an enlightening talk and moderated an animated discussion on the prudence of Bloomberg's plan to spend $51 million primarily on summer school for third graders who fail the citywide end-of-year exams. The councilmember basically asserted that the summer school and related investments are unlikely to make a difference. She suggested that efforts to improve literacy and other student performance measures need to start with younger students, namely kindergarten, pre-k and support for even younger children's school preparation at home. The councilmember also touched on a range of issues related to education reform, including labor union contracts, class size, and special education.

Excerpts from related articles :

NYC Schools Chancellor Joel Klein: ".'No one wants to hold students behind.  So, large numbers of students are promoted even though those students are not prepared for the next grade.  The result is that many students are passed through the system from one grade to another without the necessary preparation and skills.  These students typically fall further and further behind until they ultimately leave school unprepared.' That assessment makes a lot of common sense.  Who could be in favor of pushing students ahead without the skills needed to succeed in the following grade?  The question that goes unstated by advocates of ending social promotion is whether social promotion is the cause of school failure or merely a symptom of a larger set of problems facing the schools. Experience in New York City and other large school systems suggest the latter.  Previous attempts, here and elsewhere, to end social promotion have yielded marginal results at best and have served to divert attention and resources from more systemic approaches to school reform." Gotham Gazette, February 2004.

NYC Council Education Committee Chair Eva Moskowitz : "'My view of the mayor's plan [third-grade retention] is that it's too little, too late. Ours is 'Start at the beginning.' . . . There is particular enthusiasm for coming up with strategies that give kids a fighting chance earlier on." She added that the Bloomberg-Klein plan "isn't going to work.'" Village Voice, April 12, 2004 .

"In a hearing convened two weeks ago, Eva Moskowitz , (D-NY) chair of the education committee, proposed a resolution calling upon the Department of Education to reconsider. Her resolution essentially proposed that the policy remove teacher judgment and input, that test scores may not lawfully be used as the sole criterion to determine advancement within the educational system, and that the policy's tenets run contrary to a consensus of educators." Amsterdam News, March 18, 2004

"A resolution sponsored by Eva Moskowitz , the chair of the Council Education Committee, called promotions and retention decisions based solely on how a child scores on one test "a shortsighted and abusive policy that turns classrooms into 'prep centers' and runs contrary to the collective wisdom of the research community." UFT.org, April 26, 2004 .