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Oh, SmAlbany!

Daily posts and occasional longer essays about politics, culture, and life in the Capital Region...updated M-F, midmorning


"I write this not as a booster of Albany, which I am, nor an apologist for the city, which I sometimes am, but rather as a person whose imagination has become fused with a single place, and in that place finds all the elements that a man ever needs..." -W. Kennedy, from O Albany!

Wrong medicine?


Wrong medicine?:The editorial cartoon in the Thursday TU takes up the issue of the failing Albany city schools. It depicts a hospital patient on a sick bed with several leaches on his/her body. The patient is labeled "Albany school district" and the leeches are labeled "charter schools." The doctor is labeled "SUNY charter school committee" and says to the nurse, "Nurse - the patient is starting to turn blue...get me more leeches."

There are at least two problems with this cartoon:

1) Most importantly, it implies that the charter schools are the root source of the problem with the Albany school district -as if the illness the patient came to the hospital with had an easy enough fix, but the doctor was simply applying a treatment that would end up killing the patient instead.. This is nonsense. While the jury is out on whether or not the charter schools are hurting the public schools, it is clear that the public schools weren't exactly up to par prior to the arrival of the charter schools and weren't going to be turned around with a quick dose of aspirin. Starting to turn blue? How about "arrived at the hospital DOA."

2) It implies that the charter schools are killing the public schools without giving the citizens anything positive. Wouldn't a better analogy be the internet replacing the newspaper? Sure, the internet is killing newspaper sales, but it's not like it isn't providing an equal or better quality product of its own. Same with charter schools.

The one thing that the cartoon does get right is that the patient is sick. How about a cartoon with the same patient labeled "albany school district," an IV hooked up to them labeled "money," and a doctor labeled "liberal solutions/unions/democrats." The doctor could say something like, "I just can't understand why the patient isn't getting better - we've been giving him the best medicine we can think of for better than 30 years."

I'm in favor of anything that improves education in the city. If that means trying some new things - like charter schools - then i'm all for it, regardless of what the entrenched interests say. As the old political saying goes, "in the realm of public policy, something beats nothing." If the alternative is simply trying to throw more money at the problem, forget it.
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At 8:34 PM , Anonymous Anonymous said:

Oh come now, just because we have spent over a half a billion dollars over the past few years and 80 some-odd percent of the middle school kids are considered sub-standard doesnt mean we should do anything different.    



At 10:11 AM , Anonymous Anonymous said:

You also have to take into account that the only charter schools that have been functioning long enough to test have all tested below the levels of their public counterparts (and have subsequently been either restructured or had classes shut down). While I'd be the last person to defend the way the city's education has been working, I'd be equally cautious about putting my support behind these education companies that don't seem to be providing a quality product, either. We keep adding more charter schools before we've even determined whether they actually work. IT doesn't make sense to flood the city with charter schools when the only tests we've been able to do on them so far haven't had great results.    



At 3:28 PM , Anonymous Anonymous said:

If "liberal solutions" and "Democrats" are the problem with failing schools, then perhaps conservatives and Republicans have offered some alternative? Oh, wait, they haven't. Their only solution is to try to get school prayer reinstituted, and to squelch future scientific inquiry in this country by banning evolution.    



At 4:58 PM , Anonymous Anonymous said:

If "liberal solutions" and "Democrats" are the problem with failing schools, then perhaps conservatives and Republicans have offered some alternative

Tom Carroll is the head of Brighter Choices. He is the former head of Change New York, a conservative organization.

They will be tested next spring.

Crow should be steamed. Its easier to eat that way.    



At 1:00 PM , Anonymous Anonymous said:

Tom, you seem pretty confident not only in these tests showing some improvement in charter, but also that these tests actually measure anything relevent. Do charter schools (and now public schools) simply teach to the test to get scores up? If so, are we really educating children to be thoughtful, rational adults? Then again, I've always suspected that a hidden part of the conservative agenda was creating a populace as dumb as possible; I figure that's the only way to keep them believing in supply-side economics, faulty pre-war intelligence, the religious sincerity of George Bush, etc. etc.    



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