Are The Blackboard Awards Simply Political PR?
Manhattan Media should answer questions about the selection criteria, if their awards are to be seen as legitimate.
Two years ago Manhattan Media launched The Blackboard Awards to highlight "the best" schools in New York City. Or is there another agenda?
Parentadvocates.org asks Mr. Kenneth Paul:
The E-Accountability Foundation
Betsy Combier, President
To: Mr. Kenneth Paul: May 20, 2004
Dear Mr. Paul:
We at The E-Accountability Foundation support your efforts, with The Blackboard Awards, to congratulate the best New York City has in terms of schools, teachers, and students. However, we are troubled by the legitimacy of your program, as it is our opinion that there are several issues that must be addressed. We would appreciate your answers to the following questions:
1. You gave the Delta Program an award as the Best Middle School the first year that you launched the awards. Delta is not a school. The Delta Program is an almost all-white honors program located within the Booker T. Washington school, and was, two years ago, only one of several PROGRAMS under the watch of Principal Laurence Lynch. The other programs were the NOVA, El Camino, Manhattan Valley and VISTA Programs, whose students were almost all from minority groups. Yet the Blackboard Award was given to the Delta Middle School, as if it was an independent entity. Isn't this misleading?
2. There are also issues of segregation and inequality among the programs, with evidence that Delta students get supplies, books, and homework, while the other students in the other programs do not. Are there reasons for the support of Manhattan Media of such alleged inequalities? We spoke to you and your staff at length about the information and documents that we have, demonstrating very serious questions of non-compliance with the rules, regulations and laws of New York City, New York State, and the US Government. You did not reply to our requests for answers as to why Delta was chosen. Would you please reply now?
3. There are so many questions about Booker T. Washington's budget, compliance with special education funding and allocation of resources and services, that giving an award to Booker T. was, we believe, inappropriate and one of your judges was a parent of a student in The Delta Program, Robin Aronow. How do you explain this possible conflict of interest?
We look forward to posting your reply to our quiry on our website.Thank you for your prompt reply!!
The following letter about another Blackboard Award was received by Parentadvocates.org on May 20, 2004, and our questions to Mr. Paul were prompted by this:
Two years ago, Manhattan Media, publisher of Our Town and West Side Spirit, launched an ambitious project called the Blackboard Awards, to celebrate the best that our schools have to offer. Now, each fall, after months of reporting and research, the papers run a four-part series in October that presents statistical information on the schools and focuses on some outstanding public, private and parochial schools serving Manhattan students, from nursery through high school. Later in the school year, we have published special Blackboard Awards sections in praise of some outstanding teachers.
We are requesting your cooperation in the school year's final element of the Blackboard Awards project: a section, to be published in June, spotlighting high school valedictorians or student graduation speakers.
It is our hope that in introducing to our readers several dozen of the accomplished and bright young men and women who are succeeding in your schools, we can again focus attention on some good news about education in New York City.
Your help is needed to make this project possible. Would you be good enough to email us, at email@example.com, the name of your school's 2004 valedictorian or graduation speaker(s), and to assist us in getting in touch with this student or students? We are confident that our special Blackboard Awards section will be a keepsake for the young men and women depicted in it.