September 7, 2006

"Mr. Best said there is some indication that hafiz schools might begin offering a more well-rounded education than others in the city."

What?

Michael Best is general counsel for the NYC Department of Education, which, we're told, is looking into those schools that teach only the memorization of the Koran.
"We are in the process of getting in touch with them to see what's going on there," ... Best, said last week. "If there are concerns, we'll have to address them pursuant to the state guidelines."

City education officials say the investigation was triggered by a feature story about the schools in mid-August in the New York Times.

Nice to know the NYC Department of Education is keeping watch over education in NYC, such that they "get in touch" with a place if there's a big article on the front page of the NYT. "If there are concerns"... yeah, if. All the students do is memorize the Koran. How could that possibly not be a concern? And Best is saying that maybe they offer "a more well-rounded education than others in the city"? What on earth could they be doing at those other schools?

(Here's my post from last month, linking to and discussing the NYT article.)

30 comments:

Freeman Hunt said...

At the other schools, they must just stare at the cover of a particular book all day.

Elizabeth said...

Freeman, their bus passes by a library on the way to school.

But seriously, do words just lose all meaning in the mouths of bureaucrats? Or is that disease most virulent when it affects elementary and secondary school administrators?

The Drill SGT said...

Elizabeth said...
But seriously, do words just lose all meaning in the mouths of bureaucrats?


Careful, Liz is talking sense again :)

I'm not sure whether the Islamics or the NEA is going to come after you first however.

monkeyboy said...

Do schools in NYC have to submit curriculum to the Education Department to be certified?

Did seeing a single sheet of paper with "The Koran" written on it not ring any alarm bells?

The Drill SGT said...

Liz,

point your anger at Lawyers, not general "Crats" or educators in this case. He's shown as the General Counsel to the NYC DE

Icepick said...

Nice to know the NYC Department of Education is keeping watch over education in NYC, such that they "get in touch" with a place if there's a big article on the front page of the NYT. "If there are concerns"... yeah, if. All the students do is memorize the Koran. How could that possibly not be a concern? And Best is saying that maybe they offer "a more well-rounded education than others in the city"? What on earth could they be doing at those other schools?

I'm surprised that anyone finds this story that remarkable. This level of incompetence is the natural state of the public education system in this country. I'm more surprised that they're going to look into the matter this quickly.

Pastor_Jeff said...

City education officials say the investigation was triggered by a feature story about the schools in mid-August in the New York Times.

I knew there was a reason for having the Times!

Seriously, let's not fault the education department too much. Yes, they should have had a better handle on what the goals and strategies of the school were.

But it's a large system, and the parents weren't unhappy.

That's the scary part.

Icepick said...

Drill Sgt, no need to go blaming the lawyers, or at least not JUST the lawyers. I imagine that most of the decision makers in the bureaucracy of the NYC school system have education degrees. They will share a much larger portion of the blame.

Icepick said...

But it's a large system, and the parents weren't unhappy.

That's the scary part.


And collectively the parents and other adult citizens should shoulder the most blame. They'll get the least, of course. But they deserve it the most.

(BTW, that goes for the whole nation, too, not just NYC.)

Harkonnendog said...

Mr. Best cannot be fired. That's the only possible explanation for that combo of arrogance and incompetence.

Dave said...

Will just add a quick comment that I have some experience with the NYC DE and they are, to put it mildly, incompetent.

Duncan said...

"If a school doesn't inform us or announce they're around, then we may not know about them," he said.

You should all know that fewer than half the states license private religious schools (see the Education Department report State Regulation of Private Schools. Approximately 33 of the 50 states have no oversight (registration, approval, accreditation, or licensing) of private schools or sometimes private religious schools. New York only registers private high schools that issue diplomas. Even the states that have some oversight restrict themselves to registration.

Most states require that children be educated to certain vague standards and frequently specify a vague curriculuum but most of compulsory ed falls on the parents.

The de facto deregulation of homeschooling also enters into things as does the large number of religious schools.

Since NYC is not going to be hauling Muslim parents off to Riker's Island and such regulation would also impact Jewish religious schools, nothing is going to happen.

And this is a good thing.

Given the dubious quality of government schools, regulators are in a weak position.

On the other hand, religious parents are motivated to ignore regulatory moves aimed at their children by godless, atheistic, commies (progressives).

The states have learned that they can't win.

Elizabeth said...

I'm not sure whether the Islamics or the NEA is going to come after you first however.

Drill Sgt., the NEA has easiest access. My office is actually in the College of Education building; they know where to find me! Anonymous online identities do have some benefits; sadly, it's probably easy to track me down.

reader_iam said...

Most states require that children be educated to certain vague standards and frequently specify a vague curriculuum but most of compulsory ed falls on the parents.

Iowa, which also is not all that friendly to homeschoolers, apparently, is one of those that do pay attention to where you are sending your kids. There's a form that has to be completed (with deadline dates, which they do pay attention to) noting where they're going to go; who will be doing the teaching (including home address and something called a "teacher folder number,"); what the curriculum is, including specific texbooks, goals and teaching methods in (in the case of our first-grader) seven different core subject areas, plus a listing of all other classes or subject areas (six, in this case); and a vaccination record.

I would have had no clue about this, but, lucky for me, my son's particular private school fills out all the substantive stuff (which, for what they charge in tuition, they sure should) for parents to review and son.

Quite the eye-opener. And what disparities between states.

Revenant said...

Given the dubious quality of government schools, regulators are in a weak position.

Given that the hafiz schools stand accused of not teaching important subjects AT ALL, I fail to see how the government is in a weak position.

For example, unless public school math classes actually result in the average student knowing *less* math with each passing year, they cannot possibly be worse than schools which neglect to teach math at all.

Elizabeth said...

For example, unless public school math classes actually result in the average student knowing *less* math with each passing year, they cannot possibly be worse than schools which neglect to teach math at all

I was trying to come up with a pun about subtraction but I failed.

But Revenant, I'm pretty sure I knew less about math by the time I graduated than I did when I started high school. That may have been my own fault, though. I divided my time among multiple pursuits and spent only a fraction of the energy required for studying. That's the sum of it.

downtownlad said...

Well these kids can at least read. So the sad thing is that they probably ARE doing better than half the schools in New York.

The dropout rate in New York City after all is about 50%.

The Drill SGT said...

DTL,

From the previous article that Ann posted:

1. They are reciting phrases in Arabic.

2. They don't learn the Arabic language or the meaning of words or text. They just mouth the sounds. This is not a Talmudic class where the instructor and students spend hours reviewing the meanings of the Hebrew text.

They come out of the 3 year process with excellent memorization skills, no reading skills and 3 grades behind.

tjl said...

Without reading skills, they'll also be without future employment.

Harry Eagar said...

Getting all bent out of shape over this without getting equally bent over other things going on in that system suggests an inability to see big pictures.

My daughter-in-law teaches in the NYC system -- in many different locations. It's a daily horror show, and the administration is full of faults, but neither the NEA nor the teachers is the problem.

Nor is destroying the American tradition of the common school the answer.

You tell me how private schools would cope with a class of children speaking different languages, with different cultural attitudes toward education ranging down to indifference and contempt, some with mild to serious cognitive deficits and many with disabling psychological or social problems.

tcd said...

Whose fault is it then Harry Eager? Should I venture a guess and say George W Bush?
Personally, I think the NEA and its members are largely to blame for the sad state of public eduation as well as the dumb parents and their even dumber offsprings.

Harry Eagar said...

I blame the parents. Parents get the schools they want to have.

Bush isn't helping with his dishonest No Child Left Behind program.

I await, on this thread, the post explaining how vouchers would address the hafiz school problem; or, in the alternative, how you propose to deny parents the right to use their vouchers at hafiz school.

tjl said...

Harry Eager awaits "the post explaining how vouchers would address the hafiz school problem."

A responsible voucher program would specify that vouchers can be used only at schools which comply with state curriculum requirements. Compliance should be verified by inspection and by the same standardized testing given to public school students.

A "school" whose only subject is rote-memorizing syllables in a language not understood by the students won't qualify. There's no risk that publicly-funded vouchers would go to pay for classes consisting solely of obscurantist nonsense.

Harry Eagar said...

'Intelligent design' is obscurantist nonsense -- a position some people on this blog would agree with even if they think I'm nuts on every other topic.

Intelligent design does not meet state standards for science education in any state, nor could it ever.

Are you saying vouchers will not be allowed in evangelical Christian schools?

tjl said...

Catholic, Protestant, and Jewish private schools all teach the standard academic subjects. Of course they add religious material in addition to this, but not in place of it.
The feature that sets the Koran school apart is that its curriculum has NO content other than memorizing syllables in a language which it does not bother to teach. Your analogy would apply only to a school where intelligent design is the only thing taught.

Harry Eagar said...

No, the analogy is exact.

A school curriculum either meets state standards or it doesn't.

You do not seem to get that the N.Y. schools seem to be doing exactly what Bush has asked for: using public money to teach whatever the parents want taught.

Your cultural biases mislead you. Evangelical schools teach obscurantist psuedo-science, and that's all the science they teach. In fact, they go beyond that, they teach anti-science. Catholic schools -- I attended these for 14 years -- also teach a great deal of obscurantist nonsense.

It may not seem that way to you, because it's what you're comfortable with. The hafiz school is more obviously 'out there.' but it is a difference of degree, not of kind.

tjl said...

Harry Eager said, "Your cultural biases mislead you." Harry, you have no idea what my cultural biases might be. Actually, I'd probably be even less comfortable in an evangelical school than you.
But I can distinguish between a legitimate religious school (whose beliefs I don't share) and a "school" that teaches nothing at all.

Harry Eagar said...

Well, let's list some of the principal kinds of private schools that exist in the country:

Roman Catholic

Baptist and similar

Southern seg academies

Waldorf

Do not all of these teach obscurantist nonsense?

In some cases, not just nonsense but hate?

Why pick on hafiz?

Ann Althouse said...

Harry: The answer to your question is so obvious it's hard to believe you read the post and the links. The schools in question only teach memorizing of the Koran (in Arabic, without teaching comprehension of the language). No other subject is taught. What other private school is so completely inadequate as a substitute for public schooling?

Harry Eagar said...

Ocean Academy in my county, where the kids surf all day and get a diploma.

Many home schools are totally inadequate.

I'm not arguing the adequacy of memorizing the Koran in Arabic, obviously;, but it's not obvious that some of the other kinds of schools that the anti-common school movement want to use are different in any significant way.

It may not come up at your law school, but do you want your medical school admitting students who went to an ID school and do not believe in antibiotic resistance; or, much more common, who went to an Assembly of God school and believe that disease is not caused by germs or inherent organic defects but by demons?

If you don't draw the line on standards till you get to a hafiz school, then darned if I can figure out on what grounds you object to the teaching of Kevin Barrett.