Friday, January 15, 2010

NYC School Results on Intel STS -- The Silence Is Deafening

"City Students Sci High in U.S. Brain Game," cheered the headline in the NY Daily News. But that was on January 12, 2006.

"New York Tops Other States in Science Award Semifinalists," crowed the headline in the NY Times. But that was January 12, 2006 also.

"140 N.Y. Kids Are Sci High," preened the headline in the NY Post. But that one, too, was on January 12, 2006.

"33 City HS Kids Win Intel Honors," hurrahed the headline in the NY Post. But that one was dated January 13, 2005. On the same date, the NY Daily News headlined, "HS Makes Twin Killing" in its story of NYC's Intel semifinalists.

"Phenomenal Teen Scientists Advance City's Best & Brightest," thrilled the NY Daily News headline. But that one was dated January 15, 2004. "City Kids Show Intel-ligence" chimed in punningly the NY Post on the same date, while the NY Times supportively headlined their story, "Stuyvesant Again Leads in Science Contest."

"Stuy's Top Sci-High in Contest," ran the congratulatory NY Daily News headline -- on January 16, 2003. "'Junior Nobel'" for Local HS," raved the NY Post, while the NY Times offered as its laudatory leading line, "Stuyvesant Defeats Inertia to Lead Intel Rivals Again."

And so the story goes, back and back and back. In 2001, the NY Daily News headline ran positively braggardly: "Do the Math: We Rule. State, Bronx Science Clean Up in Contest." The year before, the Daily News had bellowed, "Scientific Sensations 58 Students Advance to Intel Contest Semis."

So here we are in January 2010, with the NYC public schools' just announced miserly showing of just 15 Intel semifinalists, all but one of them from Stuyvesant and Bronx Science, and not a peep from any of those newspapers. Nothing said about the precipitous decline in the city schools' Intel Science Talent Search contest over the past few years, a dropoff that mirrors almost precisely the years of mayoral control and Joel Klein's stewardship of the public schools.

Last year, only the NY Post could muster a chipper but soft-pedaled story on January 15, 2009 headlined, "Kids Are All Bright." With only 24 semifinalists, just half the number in 2002 (the last year before mayoral control of the public schools was initiated), the Post could at least try to keep a good game face. In 2008, with only 20 semifinalists, only the NY Times could muster a story (January 17, 2008), and its headline, "L.I. School Stands Out in Science Contest," was an inadvertent slap in the DOE's face. For 2010, the news is so bleak, none of the local papers can apparently find a story line that puts a happy face on the results.

Of course, we might well ask why a different story line hasn't appeared instead, one that asks why, with the exception of Bronx Science and Stuyvesant, the NYC public schools have virtually disappeared off the Intel STS map and what this relentless, seven-year, downhill trend says about our public high schools under Mayor Bloomberg and Chancellor Klein. We might also ask when the local print media were apparently, surreptitiously, also put under mayoral control.