June 19, 2021

Mercedes Schneider: Mayoral Candidate Eric Adams is Prepared to Thin-Spread NYC’s “Great Teachers”

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He’s the leading candidate for NYC mayor, and he has some terrible ideas for education. Mercedes Schneider takes a look. Reposted with permission.

Eric Adams is running for mayor of New York City.

He wants to assign hundreds of students to a single teacher because technology could allow it, and it costs less.

Of course, in Adams’ mind, the ridiculous student-teacher ratio is fine because *great teachers* with technology (aka, kids on laptops) produces “skillful” teaching. Consider Adams’ words in this February 2021 candidate interview with Citizens Budget Commission president, Andrew Rein, when Rein asks Adams about how much a “full year school year” would cost.

Apparently, Adams’ plan is the well-worn ed-reform idea of cost-cutting excellence:

Think about this for a moment, let’s go with the full year school year because that’s important to me. When you look at the heart of the dysfunctionality of our city, it’s the Department of Education. We keep producing, broken children that turn into broken adults and live in a broken system. 80% of the men and women at Rikers Island don’t have a high school diploma or equivalency diploma. 30% are reported based on one study to be dyslexic because we’re not doing what we should be doing in educating, we find ourselves putting young people in a place of being incarcerated. That must change. And so if you do a full year school year by using the new technology of remote learning, you don’t need children to be in a school building with a number of teachers, it’s just the opposite. You could have one great teacher that’s in one of our specialized high schools to teach 300 to 400 students who are struggling in math with the skillful way that they’re able to teach.

Let’s look at our best mastered teachers and have them have programs where they’re no longer being just within a school building. We no longer have to live within the boundaries of walls, of locations. We can now have a different method of teaching and I’m going to have the best remote learning that we could possibly have, not just turning on the screen and having children look at someone or really being engaged.

When market-based ed reform hit Louisiana in 2011, one of my concerns as a classroom teacher was that I might be rated “highly effective” and *rewarded* with increased class sizes. That thinking was and still is an idiotic core belief of ed reform: A “great teacher” can continue to be great no matter how thin that teacher is spread in trying to meet the educational needs of any number of individual students.

And that was before advocates of this foolish narrative realized how much of an increase student load they might try to push in the name of remote-learning *freedom from boundaries.*

One boundary does not change, and that is my finiteness as a human being. Only so much time. Only so much energy.

If you’re willing to burn out teachers, you’re not seeking educational excellence for students.

Masterful teaching does not happen when teachers are pushed beyond their limits. Having several hundred students at once and being expected to meet the needs of those students via computerized instruction is a non-solution billed as solution to the likes of a would-be politician trying to market public education on the cheap.

Interestingly, Adams is trying to backtrack on his hundreds of students per teacher sales pitch, as noted by NY1 on June 14, 2021:

The comment may have come at a mayoral forum four months ago, but that mattered little to critics who saw it for the first time on social media this weekend.

After a video of Eric Adams extolling remote learning began making the rounds online, his opponents pounced, and Adams did some backtracking.

In the clip, taken from a mayoral forum held by the Citizens Budget Commission in February, Adams says, “By using the new technology of remote learning, you don’t need children to be in a school building with a number of teachers. It’s just the opposite. You could have one great teacher that’s in one of our specialized high schools to teach three- to four hundred students who are struggling in math.” …

Adams’ original comment was in the context of his proposal for a full-year school year, with college seminar-style learning as one element. Despite the fact he made similar comments elsewhere, he said Sunday that he misspoke during the mayoral forum, and didn’t mean to say 300 to 400.

“We were talking about 30 to 40 children,” he said.

Thirty or forty students per teacher is too much of a class load and still precludes quality instruction.

What else is too much is that in another February 2021 interview, this time for Bloomberg, Adams again pushed for hundreds of students per teacher, but at the reduced rate of only 200 to 300.

Here’s Adams’ 200-to-300 commentary, with remote-learning-mastery-despite-teacher-overload nonsense, but great teacher, great teachers:

You know, Michael Bloomberg had it right by going after mayoral control in schools. The crisis we are experiencing in America, not only in New York but across America, every big city, is fed by education. Everything that we’re facing for the most part in our city stems from our failure to educate, and we can’t continue to say it’s too expensive. No. It’s too expensive if we don’t do it. I always talk about the quote from Archbishop Desmond Tutu. He spent a lifetime pulling people out of the river — no one goes upstream and prevents them from falling in in the first place. We’re running our city downstream. We have to go upstream and change our thinking from a crisis-management system to a proactive one.

So just dealing with summer school — we could use remote learning. We should have the best remote-learning experience on the globe. We should reach out to Google, we should reach out to Facebook, we should reach out to our tech industry, and we should build out a state-of-the-art remote learning experience so that children don’t have to sit in the school building. We should require two to three hours a day where our young people during the summer months are receiving continuous instruction. And you could have a great teacher, math teacher, English teacher, from one of the specialized high schools, who can do this remotely, or one of the great teachers of schools, public, middle schools.

Covid has revealed to us we can do remote learning — we just have to do it right. We can’t go through the motions. Too many students — they’ll sign on, they just put a screen up. That is not remote learning. We need to master remote learning. You could have one teacher who could instruct remotely 200 to 300 students, and give them the instruction that they deserve. We can do this if we bridge technology with the learning experience, and it would be cost-effective.

“And it would be cost effective.”

There it is: Educational excellence on the cheap. Call it the best. Say 200-300 kids per teacher, no, 300-400 kids per teacher, no 30-40 kids per teacher because backtrack-lying is the presumed road to that mayoral control for candidate Adams.

Okay. I just have to repeat this incredible contradiction, literally within the same sentence:

You could have one teacher who could instruct remotely 200 to 300 students, and give them the instruction that they deserve.

One teacher.

200-300 students. (Or is it 300-400 students?)

Instructed remotely.

The instruction students deserve.

I’ll tell you what, New York:

You deserve more that the education thin-spread Eric Adams is prepared to institute.

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