Education Reform

David Bloomfield: Time for Merryl Tisch to Step Down

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David Bloomfield, professor of educational leadership, law, and policy at Brooklyn College and the CUNY Graduate Center, writes that it is time for Merryl Tisch, the chancellor of the New York Board of Regents, to step down and make way for new leadership.

Tisch was appointed to the Board of Regents on April 1, 1996 — almost 20 years ago. She became chancellor in 2009.

“Upon taking the Regents helm, Tisch promised, “We will embrace innovation with a data-driven approach . . . to raise test scores, raise graduation rates, and finally close the achievement gap.”

“By her own measures — and she’s had plenty of time to prove the wisdom of her approach — Tisch has fallen far short. Last month, statewide test scores showed a mere 31.3% of students proficient in English Language Arts and 38.1% in math on the tough, relatively new Common Core-aligned tests.

“In June 2012, Tisch bemoaned that “nearly a quarter of our students still don’t graduate after four years.” That is still the case. For students taking up to five years to complete high school, the 2010 graduation rate stood at 77%. Today it is 76.4%.

“Meantime, the achievement gap persists. Four-year graduation rates for 2010 and 2014 — one of the best apples-to-apples indicators we have — show exactly the same 25 percentage point difference between black and Hispanic students compared to white students…..

“Less appreciated, but perhaps more important, Tisch’s unsuccessful focus on standards and testing has distracted the department from another major function, district oversight. The crisis in East Ramapo — where the school board has long plundered district funds to provide services to students attending yeshivas — is only beginning to be met with effective action.”

Districts failed to meet state requirements for helping English language learners and immigrant children. The Regents didn’t crack down. In Néw York City, Bloomfield writes, “state requirements for school librarians, physical education and more have been ignored. Of greatest consequence, the rampant racial and income segregation of the state’s schools has been met with mere lip service from the person who should be New York’s leading voice and change agent on the issue…..

“Tisch vehemently believes that poor performance should lead to firings and school closures.”

Tisch insists that failure should not be allowed to comtinue.

Bloomfield writes:

“It is time for Tisch to take the medicine she has advised for others.” Leave, resign, go. Why allow failure to continue?

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