NYC Mayor Needs Analytics In His Corner - InformationWeek
Data Management // Software Platforms

NYC Mayor Needs Analytics In His Corner

Mayor de Blasio needs more than public support to advance his plans for jobs, education, and public safety. He must harness big data.

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Lorna Garey
Lorna Garey,
User Rank: Author
3/14/2014 | 10:35:25 AM
Re: Education
I get the attraction of charter schools, but I also get the argument that they syphon funds and cherry pick students with motivated parents from public schools, which cannot pick and choose what students to admit. How is anyone surprised that data shows charter schools do better? They have their choice of students. This skews the data from the beginning. Then to make matters worse, the public school is left with students expected to underperform and fewer funds to deal with that population.

If you want to prove that charters work better, randomly assign students in a blind fashion so that they also must deal with unmotivated families and disciplinary issues. Do that for a few years, then compare the numbers. If charters are still ahead, at that point, there should be wholesale change. But for now, charter vs. public is not an equal playing field.
User Rank: Author
3/14/2014 | 9:24:03 AM
Re: Education
I'm skeptical de Blasio will use analytics or big data because they most likely will disprove his platform, especially regarding education. He appears to be using his position to guarantee jobs for his pals, with little consideration for the boys and girls who are his real "customers." If he looked at the data -- from NYC and other large metropolitan areas -- I am pretty sure he'd see charter schools are successful and that's why so many parents (and students) want to attend them. 

We all may sometimes bemoan this world of metrics and analysis, but there are some definite upsides: when done correctly, analytics removes sentiment from the equation and clearly shows what works and what doesn't. You can then debate how to further improve performance -- whether it's education, police, a publication, or customer service -- but the straight data doesn't lie. 
Charlie Babcock
Charlie Babcock,
User Rank: Author
3/13/2014 | 1:38:29 PM
Reaction to one disaster sets the stage for the next
When Hurricane Sandty struck New York, one phenomenon that emerged was how one disaster sets the stage for the next. After the Sept. 11, 2001, attack on the World Trade Center, building owners in New York were ordered to keep a minimum of fuel oil for their backup generators on premises, lest such supplies provide fuel for and spread another 9/11 type incident. So when 75 Broad St. was hit wtih a storm surge during the 2012 hurricane,it lost its basement fuel oil pumping system. It also lost the operative elements of its disaster recovery plan because oil delivery trucks could not get through. Generators on the 18th floor were fine, but would have had to shutdown upon the exhaustion of short term fuel supplies. This is where Pier 1 organized the bucket brigade to carry fuel oil up 17 floors and kept the generators running. Is there some analytics program that can examine what went wrong in the previous disaster and predict how corrective measures may impact the next? It's time to review the fuel oil restrictions in NYC.
D. Henschen
D. Henschen,
User Rank: Author
3/13/2014 | 12:25:51 PM
Head-in-the-sand move to the old school?
I thought Bloomberg's administration was a model of efficiency and can-do management (and it always recovered from occasional overzealousness). I have to a agree that de Blasio is off to a worrying start, appointing a bunch of holdovers from bygone eras and cow-towing to put-upon interest groups. Coverage this week reveals that NYC-run magnet schools are FAR from representative of the overall population because they rely on bogus, multiple-choice tests. The campaign-donating 1% get their kids into those schools, and then they cluck about the wonderful NYC school system while the rest are ill served.

I can only hope that we're not back to the can't-do bureaucratic nightmare that was the Lindsay/ Beame/Koch/Dinkins era.  
User Rank: Author
3/13/2014 | 9:43:07 AM
When it comes to improving education, de Blasio needs to look at two sets of data: the data that shows the city's charter schools outperforming most of its regular public schools in poor areas, and the data showing that parents in poor neighborhoods with bad schools strongly favor having a charter school option. Stop catering to the 1%: the teachers' union desperately trying to protect its underperforming monopoly.
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