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Walcott disapproval rating rises: Poll

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Queens residents gave the city’s school chancellor low marks on his job performance last week as national test results showed a slight drop in scores for city children since 2009.

In a recent poll, 41 percent of Queens residents said they disapproved of the way city Schools Chancellor Dennis Walcott is handling his job as opposed to 31 percent who said they approved.

According to a Quinnipiac University poll released last week, 29 percent said they did not know or did not have an answer as to how they felt the chancellor had performed. Since taking the job in May, Walcott’s citywide disapproval rating has climbed from 21 percent to 34 percent, while his approval rating stayed basically the same.

In the classroom the city’s fourth- and eighth-graders scored slightly lower on national math tests over the two-year period from 2009-11 as students in large cities across the country made slight gains.

According to the National Assessment of Educational Progress, the city’s fourth-graders made no change in their reading scores from 2009, while eighth-graders made slight gains during the same time period.

At the college level, CUNY came under fire over its new curriculum.

In July, the City University of New York’s board of trustees adopted a measure to create a university-wide core curriculum, but a report released last week by The Chronicle of Higher Education criticized the core as a dilution of academic standards.

“In this case, CUNY is relaxing academic standards in the hope of streamlining the path to graduation,” Peter Wood wrote. “The pathways in questions are shortcuts meant to hustle under-prepared students through the graduation requirements of the four-year baccalaureate programs.”

“The unprepared students come in two varieties: students transferring into the senior CUNY colleges from the CUNY junior colleges, and students who have entered CUNY’s senior colleges directly from New York City high schools,” Wood continued.

Woods identifies Queens College as one of five within the “charmed circle” that still maintains relatively high admission standards, but points out that other schools, in particular the system’s community colleges, are lowering their standards in order to accommodate students graduating from city schools ill-prepared for college.

On another front, city Comptroller John Liu returned a $65 million city Department of Education school custodial contract his office said failed to provide an explanation for a 44 percent increase in cost. The department first entered into a five-year custodial and building maintenance contract with Control Building Services in 2004.

Three years later, the contract was transferred to Temco Service Industries at a cost of $45 million annually for the remaining two years, and then renewed twice beginning in 2009 at $45 million per year.

Last month, the DOE requested a one-year extension, though the amount was changed to $65 million.

Liu’s office also had several concerns about the contract with Temco, including an official investigation into unauthorized use of school facilities after hours and questions about a Temco consultant’s ties to the DOE.

Reach reporter Rich Bockmann by e-mail at rbockmann@cnglocal.com or by phone at 718-260-4574.

Posted 3:03 am, December 22, 2011
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