Steve Koss reports:
Kudos to Yoav Gonen and his Intel STS story in today's NY Post (see below). He gets the facts right and provides some insightful commentary from local schools, but the overall thrust is also regrettably softened a bit in two ways that are worth noting.
First is the choice of base year, 1998, for comparing the number of Semifinalists to today. Yes, the number of participants and Semifinalists is down dramatically since 1998, but they could just have easily used 2002 as the base year, in which case the drop in semifinalists would still have been 70.2% and the drop in participation 35.8%. Those results would have told essentially the same story, but then the lead (the story's first line) would have read "since 2002," not "since 1998." That difference would have made it much more obvious that the real nosedive in these results all took place since 2003, when NYers handed the schools over to Mayor Bloomberg. At that point, the Intel STS crash started in earnest, and the pull has been relentlessly downward ever since. In fact, the last four years have been absolutely dreadful on both these measures, and it's only in the last four years that we're really seeing the bad fruits of eight years of Joel Klein's miseducation program. By using 1998 as the base year in some parts of the story and 1998-2003 versus 2004-2011 in other parts, the story may also be somewhat confusing to readers not well versed in these numbers (which will be the vast majority of NYers).
The second issue is the lack of mention of the past four years as a group. This year's all-time lows are not one-time occurrences; they are not sudden, inexplicable anomalies. They are part of a steady downward trend, a trend in which the last four years have been absolutely horrendous in terms of NYC Intel STS results and participation. By not mentioning the last four years as a "data group," or providing a chart of the data, the story does not give readers a sense of what has been happening and just how clearly this decline has coincided with, and accelerated under, the Bloomberg/Klein regime. The last four years, as even a simple bar chart would show, have been a total disaster -- yet they represent the reaping of what Bloomberg/Klein has sown for the past eight-plus years.
The Post's story helps inform, and for that I am indeed very grateful. Yoav Gonen deserves recognition for being the first media person in the NYC area to publish on this issue, something we've been urging now for the past three years. I would perhaps have presented some of the results differently, but Yoav has done a great job in getting the story out and also putting some commentary behind it from science teachers in NYC area schools. Even in a softened form, Yoav's story stands as just one more indictment of the educational disaster that has been mayoral control and the schools chancellorship under Joel Klein. When even our city's "best and brightest" are falling off in performance and achievement, and that in a competition which not so many years ago was flat-out "owned" by NYC public schools, it's well past time for politicians and the public to be asking a lot more, and a lot deeper, questions,
Thanks, Yoav, for being first in getting this important story out to the NYC public.
By YOAV GONEN, Education Reporter
Last Updated: 3:18 AM, January 18, 2011
Posted: 1:05 AM, January 18, 2011
Only 14 city public high-school seniors were named semifinalists in the prestigious Intel Science Talent Search this year -- a dizzying plunge of 75 percent since 1998.
The all-time low is part of a troubling trend over the last seven years, when the average number of city public-school kids named to the semifinals of the so-called "Junior Nobel Prize" fell to 20.4 -- out of 300 named nationally.
By comparison, the public schools here yielded an average of 46.3 semifinalists between 1998 and 2004.
Read more: http://www.nypost.com/p/news/