Thursday, September 24, 2015
Mayor Bill De Blasio's Education Agenda Is A Joke.
With much fanfare, Mayor Bill de Blasio rolled out his education agenda and to say the least its very flawed. In his education agenda he wants many "high needs" schools to have a second grade reading specialist. What about the other grades? Does any educator really believe that one year of intensive literacy is going to solve the long-term academic problems? Moreover, the Mayor wants to add Advanced Placement courses to 100 schools that don't have them presently. The problem here is that many of these schools don't have Advanced Placement courses because the students of these schools struggle and fail to pass the much easier Regents as many of them as level one students (the lowest level academically) when entering the high schools. Finally, the goal of the 80% graduation rate smacks of the Bloomberg/Klein years when the pressure to improve the graduation rate resulted in academic fraud. How does the Mayor propose to reach his 80% graduation rate goal and ensure that the students are indeed receiving a quality education without schools cheating?
While the Mayor's education agenda is laudable, it fails to address the realities of the prime causes of the educational inequality that is so very evident in the New York City schools. The so-called progressive Mayor does not tackle the social-economic conditions that hinder children in deep poverty who end up a grade behind their better prepared peers as they enter Kindergarten and only widens during the K to 12 student years. The Mayor fails to address the issue of teacher turnover in deep poverty schools and change the DOE policy that discourages schools from hiring veteran teachers and encourages them to hire inexperienced teachers because their cheap which only hurts student learning. In addition, the Mayor's education agenda fails to address the racial and economic inequity that has resulted in highly segregated schools where the higher academically achieving students with middle class incomes will travel two hours or more to be accepted by the better schools while the neighborhood high schools in deep poverty areas struggle to fill their vacancies with "high needs" and over-the-counter students. For example Francis Lewis High School is crammed with 4,500 students when the school that should have 2,800 students while August Martin High School had 580 vacancies that had to be filled with students who registered late, new to the city schools , or came out of incarceration. Many of them "high needs" and academically deficit. I might add that Mayor Bill de Blasio campaigned on lowering class size, yet there is no mention of smaller classes anywhere in his education agenda, why?
The school I am assigned to for the first month of the year has an incoming freshman class that is 35% level one and the teachers at the school were informed that every one of their classes have students with IEPs and its the teacher's responsibility to know what the IEP contains and to adjust their lessons accordingly. I have seen seniors who have trouble with simple Math and are functionally illiterate and yet the Mayor is talking about Advance Placement courses and college readiness. The disconnect between the Mayor's education agenda and the reality is obvious and I cannot believe how clueless the Mayor and Chancellor are when it comes to the real problems that beset the New York City schools.
The Mayor would be better served if he addresses the poverty and the lack of a family structure rather than trying to put a band aid on the infection that simply hides the problem without solving it. To me, the Mayor's education agenda is simply a joke.