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A New York State FOIL Request for David Cantor, New York City Department of Education

brandenburg gate

Dear Mr. Cantor,

Please consider this a formal FOIL request for scale scores by race/ethnicity referenced in the following document:

http://www.eduwonk.com/2008/07/from-chris-cerf.html

Hard copies are not necessary; electronic copies of the scores for 2003-2008 will suffice. You can e-mail those to mktabor@gmail.com. In your comment to Mr. Stern, you suggested that the data were freely available; you should, then, have no trouble fulfilling my request with all deliberate speed – and certainly within the five business day limit stated in our State’s FOIL statute. If the requested records cannot be emailed to me due to their volume, please indicate the actual cost of copying all records onto media convenient for your Office.

I understand the concern you expressed to Eduwonkette, the inimitable – if anonymous – education blogger, regarding the data’s availability. After all, we can’t be sure that Ms. Eduwonkette is an American citizen [and thus a member of the "public"], let alone a New York State resident. You said:

“I’ve thought about it and decided i don’t want to give out information to someone asking anonymously.”

You need not worry about my identity or my citizenship.

And whereas I appreciate such earnest gatekeeping, undoubtedly in the interests of our State’s security and well-being [such data in the hands of our enemies from within or without, or on the desktop of one whose GRE scores have 500 or 600 points on the mean score of your teachers, might yield unpalatable, unpredictable conclusions], I am reminded of a passage in that FOIL statute:

“The legislature therefore declares that government is the public’s business and that the public, individually and collectively and represented by a free press, should have access to the records of government in accordance with the provisions of this article.”

Though your office may keep the gate, you don’t make the rules. Fear not: New York City’s Department of Education would do well to remember that the next time a blogger, or any member of that ‘free press,’ makes a request for information, you can grant that request with less hand-wringing and heartburn. There was no legitimate reason to deny Eduwonkette’s request; there are no reasons – legitimate or otherwise – to deny mine.

I do apologize that this request was made on a public website rather than via e-mail; as it is in the wee hours of Monday, I felt that it was inappropriate to call you, and your e-mail address was not at the ready [My Rolodex is less fertile than Mr. Stern's or Eduwonkette's]. A Google search of “david cantor NYC department of education” yields little of value, and your listings on the DoE website provide nothing in the way of electronic communication. A curious decision, but understandable when one considers that penchant for gatekeeping.

Many thanks to your and your Office in advance. If you need any additional information – though you shouldn’t, as referring to these data as “them” in the discussion on Mr. Rotherham’s website shows that we’re both entirely clear on the data in question – feel free to contact me at the phone number or e-mail address below.

Sincerely,

Matthew K. Tabor
e: mktabor@gmail.com
w: www.matthewktabor.com
p: 607.821.1752
Cooperstown, New York

UPDATE at 4.24pm, July 28:

For any interested parties, Mr. Cantor’s e-mail address is DCantor@schools.nyc.gov – God knows you won’t find it easily on the DoE website. Now that this post is the first entry for a relevant Google search, no one should have any trouble locating the e-mail address they need.

UPDATE at 10.07pm, July 29:

Mr. Andrew Jacob, to whom the above e-mail was copied, sent along the requested data this afternoon. It is available for download here:

http://matthewktabor.com/downloads/scale_scores_by_ethn_2.xls

2 Responses to “A New York State FOIL Request for David Cantor, New York City Department of Education”

  1. kderosa says:

    I’ll second this request.

  2. Norm says:

    Good luck Matthew. David may be busy as the PR guy for that Sharpton/Klein road show. In case you don’t get a response, here is another address which used to respond on the NYC Education list serve: cantorrac@gmail.com

    As one pundit said, getting data out of the NYC DOE is harder than the KGB. Key question: Will you get your first social security check before you get a response?

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