2013 will be a defining moment for public education. Why, you might ask? After a decade of Mayor Bloomberg controlling the school system, only one out four of students graduate ready for college and only 13% of Black and Latino students do. The next mayor will have to do way better than that when it comes to educating our children.
When Mayor Bloomberg came into office ten years ago, he shook up the education system by shining a spotlight on it, ensuring that we had certified teachers in every classroom, creating hundreds of small schools and restructuring the system along a business model. The Bloomberg hype is that graduation rates have increased, the closure of 140 schools has been successful, and the racial achievement gap has closed. But the reality is that most of the students who are graduating have to take remedial courses at CUNY because they are not academically prepared, school closures have resulted in thousands of students of color dropping out and feeling helpless, and the racial achievement gap is as wide as it was when Mayor Bloomberg entered in 2002.
We as a City deserve the truth about the track record of the Bloomberg reforms in order to really address the educational crisis before us today.
We need the next NYC mayor to respect public education enough not to appoint a magazine executive as School Chancellor, to understand that schools are successful when teachers, parents, students and community leaders all work collaboratively, to take responsibility for educational outcomes instead of blaming everyone else, to begin to heal the division between district public school parents and charter school parents as opposed to fueling conflict.
That is why I am part of a new coalition of parents, community organizations and unions called New Yorkers for Great Public Schools (NY-GPS) that will ensure that the next mayor commits to a better direction for public education. We cannot sit by while a new super-PAC called StudentsFirstNY spends $50 million dollars to ensure that the next mayor will continue Bloomberg’s failed policies.
We must harness our love and commitment for our children and work together to create a new direction for public education that relies on proven, research-based reforms, collaboration, and mutual respect.
Frederick Douglass stated “It is not light that we need, but fire; it is not the gentle shower, but thunder. We need the storm, the whirlwind, and the earthquake.”
I’m ready to be the fire and thunder!
Are you ready?