Sounding the Alarm For New York City Parents
If you base your impression of New York City public schools on what Mayor de Blasio and Chancellor Farina tell the public, things are simply rosy. But if you listen to parents with kids in the public school system, you will hear a far different story. That’s why StudentsFirstNY is sounding the alarm and working to mobilize parents at the city’s 100 lowest performing schools.
To kickoff this school year, we launched a weeklong, massive grassroots effort. The goal: alert parents about their school’s poor performance and help mobilize them to demand change. The schools we targeted all had proficiency rates below 10 percent for New York State tests in math and English language arts, meaning that at least nine out of ten students failed to pass. Many of these 100 schools are part of Mayor de Blasio’s Renewal and Community schools that did not show sufficient progress last year. This comprehensive action is our latest effort to empower parents in traditional district public schools to speak up, take action and advocate for improving school quality and expanding parent choice.
Parents in these failing district schools deserve to know that Mayor de Blasio’s school agenda is not helping their kids fast enough. Our organizers have spoken to parents from the Bronx to Brooklyn who are fed up. The students in these schools deserve action now, and nothing the Mayor has done so far has been enough.
The Mayor and the Chancellor have touted their efforts with Renewal and Community Schools, with lots of smiling press conferences and flowery rhetoric. But despite this happy talk, the shocking reality is that 9 out of 10 students at these schools are not being taught to read or do math at grade level — even lower than other failing schools. Among schools with grades 3–8, every one of the 63 Renewal Schools and 98 percent of Community Schools had more than 75 percent of students failing exams. These are the Mayor’s signature turnaround programs and they are performing even worse than the failing schools he’s not focused on.
The Mayor is failing, in large part, because he has rejected evidence of what works and instead focused on initiatives that don’t rock the boat with his friends in the teachers’ union. Now the Mayor has announced another patchwork of proposals that fail to address the core issues plaguing our schools. This year’s test results point to significant gaps in school quality across the city that cannot be addressed without major systemic reforms. Radical change is needed — with specific focus on evidence-based solutions, such as improving teacher quality and expanding school choice.
It’s time for City Hall to focus on the quality of teachers in classrooms and ensure new hires meet high standards. The Mayor must also stop blocking the expansion of charter schools and promote their growth on behalf of families who need them. Token collaborations with charter schools won’t do anything for kids trapped in failing schools.
But nothing will change if we don’t make our voices heard. Mayor de Blasio needs to know he must to do more for our kids.
By Tenicka Boyd, StudentsFirstNY, Director of Organizing
For more information on the campaign for education reform in New York, and how to join StudentsFirstNY in calling upon Mayor de Blasio and Chancellor Fariña to take the steps needed to ensure that all kids get the education they deserve, visit our website: http://www.studentsfirstny.org/