An Open Letter to Mayor Elect De Blasio :
November 25, 2013
Anyone who actually lives in New York City, has kids attending public schools, and wants to help with improving public schools, will know that the things I write here are absolutely truthful. While I am not trying to say I have done all the exact statistical research, I AM saying that as a parent, sometime teacher, and former student myself of New York Public Schools, the following is what our new Mayor Elect DeBlasio probably knows himself to be true as well. I am saying too that what is needed is a genuine dialogue between City Hall and parents and students, and until open and honest dialogue begins again after the damage and secrecy of the Bloomberg administrations’ high jacking of our schools, students, teachers and families will continue to face ‘Tweed’ as it has come to be known as the Tower of Power, the place where no one other than the rich and connected ever has reasonable access for any purpose whatsoever.
So to begin, this is what I know, have observed, have experienced, and NOT what anyone paid me to research. I write this entirely on my own, and again, I have no title, no official purpose, and most notably, no contract with Bloomberg’s partners, such as Amblify, the new for profit company funded and founded by none other than Rupert Murdoch, former NYC Schools Chancellor Joel Klein, for the sole purpose of making tens of millions off the backs of public schools here and elsewhere. I have no connection other than what I have stated already: a parent with big ears and a bigger mouth, some education experience and many decades of public school exposure.
First things first: our public schools are made up of over one million students, age four to eighteen, and in some special circumstances, have students older than that who are struggling to complete studies. This is a massively sized system, and nobody can doubt the difficulties inherent purely in terms of size.
To the Mayor Elect, I submit this controversial statement : You (Mr. DeBlasio) spoke of a Tale of Two Cities. I commonly refer to the NYC Public School system in similar fashion: for students with families of some means, connections, education, there is a small and elite group of schools most of those kids attend. For the rest, some seventy percent roughly, the rest of the students, who are MOSTLY of color, LARGELY from families with lesser means, or from recently immigrated families..or a combination of other factors; for THOSE vast majority, the schools these nearly 650,000 students attend are LESSER schools academically, are more likely to be filled with struggling students, AND can often be seen as simply segregated.
Before the outrage this article will no doubt provoke, let me again say that the comments here are based on my own personal experience, my own teaching experience, and involvement in schools here in the city. And, all anyone would have to do if they ever wanted to, would be to stop outside any number of public schools during arrival, lunchtime or dismissal times… the crowds of students, parents, school buses filled with young faces, the cars pulling up and kids climbing in or out, all this and anyone can SEE for themselves how NOT diverse our schools actually are.
Recently, the President came to New York, and in support of his so called STEM initiative, he had a scheduled visit/photo op at a high school in a poorer area of Brooklyn that was presumably a shining example (ie shiny new building) of a school. Interestingly, nobody in the media so much as mentioned that the school Obama toured was all but entirely made up of students who were of color, non white, mostly from poorer families, and that the school has yet to graduate ANYONE. No diversity, no evidence of success, nothing but a very new building. In fact, the school has no rigorous selection for admittance and many of the students were simply ‘assigned’ from the convoluted Bloomberg so called “high school choice” system.
Under Bloomberg, Tweed literally ‘stole’ our neighborhood buildings, and in the name of “Choice”, force fed the entire student and family body to participate in a convoluted, often changing method for being ‘assigned’ a school. Co location, another term used for something many of us understand simply as forcing multiple schools and different interests into the same buildings, charter or otherwise, but most often, without regard for community or any local input.
Mr. Mayor Elect DeBlasio: you are not only a parent of students who actually attended and attend public schools, but you also have children of mixed race. I assume you know all too well some of the implications for students of color, and how they can often be relegated to lesser educational settings, if they were not your own, if you did not intervene at many turns along the way. This is a Tale of Two Educations, Mr. DeBlasio, and while that may be a formidable challenge to face, it remains an ugly and obvious truth. Under Bloomberg, schools and students, families and neighborhoods were further separated, as the monied sections of the city became more rarified than ever before.
We owe our city and its inhabitants better than this. I know it’s a monumental task, to literally take back our public school system from the Educrats, who have wasted so many years designing ways to ‘assess’, spending hundreds of millions on privately held contracts (Murdoch, Klein, Gates, Pearson, Amblify, et al) …without ever improving education citywide. We have to start somewhere, and that somewhere is by first admitting we have a problem. Thank you.