Imagine a teacher who, on the first day of class, told his students that no matter how well they performed, 5% of them would fail the course and another 10% would eke by with ‘D’s. And that no matter how poorly they did, 25% would receive ‘A’s.
That teacher is Joel Klein, and the students are New York City elementary and middle public schools. Klein just announced [see here and here], that no matter how they performed — good, bad or indifferent — 5% of the schools would fail on the School Progress Reports, 10% would receive a ‘D’ grade and 25% would receive an ‘A’ grade.
Why would Klein do what no educator with integrity would do? Because the goal here is not educational. It is political. What this change does is ensure that he will have 5% to 15% of the schools eligible for closure. And having been through a year when Tweed continually amended Educational Impact Statements and offered ex post facto justifications for failing to follow its own standards in closing schools, he is now intent that he will have schools with the appropriate scores to close.
Only a persistently failing management of a school system could determine that its schools were failures, before one piece of its data was in.