The Times headline on Aug 1 was positive and congratulatory: “Pupils at Troubled Schools Keep Pace With Peers.” We read that 40 out of 63 struggling schools in New York increased their proficiency rates in math while 59 had an increase in English But the troubled schools in the euphemistically named Renewal Program had a scant 12.8% of their tested students reach this level. Nowhere in the article are we told what a “proficiency score” is but if you go on the Dept of Education website, you will be shocked to discover that it is 3 out of a possible 4.7 - an obfuscating way to say approximately 63% If we look at the regular city schools, we discover that ony 38% of students are proficient in English and 36% in math. To make matters worse, this year’s tests were both un-timed and shorter than previous years. If you saw these numbers on a chart of survival rates in city hospitals, you would consider health care to be in terminal straits, requiring immediate crisis management. Reversing the equation, two thirds of students in New York public schools are incapable of achieving even what used to be considered a failing grade in English and math. 93% of students in failing schools are black and Hispanic. This alarming statistic should concern the Black Lives Matter activists currently camped out in City Hall Park demanding that Commissioner Bratton be fired, among other things. The surest path to becoming a criminal is not succeeding in school and dropping out.
While Hillary Clinton promises free college tuition for everyone whose family income is less than $125,000 a year, the former senator from New York should address the alarming failure of our education system to produce students who are even marginally literate in the primary grades, much less suitable for college. Adding to the disgrace of this non-performance is the fact that New York is the highest spending state on cost per pupil, reaching the lofty sum of $19,552 in 2015. Making it doubtful that any Democrat would dare to challenge the Teachers’ Union is their astronomical contribution to the Democratic Party in national elections - the last one topping 19 million dollars with no final figures available yet for this election. But the objection of teachers to charter schools and their resistance to revolutionizing the system is only a small part of this statewide tragedy. Until we stop promoting failing students and start acknowledging that many of these children are severely deprived and damaged by the time they start school, we will continue to throw money away recklessly, as we have done for too many years. Let’s learn from the success of Catholic schools and charter schools that the sine qua non of academic achievement is self-discipline which begins with classroom discipline that is consistently enforced. Let’s give all students uniforms and get rid of the protracted ESL ( English as a second language) classes and substitute the Israeli program of ulpan - language immersion classes for six months to a year. Above all, let’s not engage in the doubletalk that allows the media to refer to the epitome of abject failure as “keeping pace.”
Have PoliticalMavens.com delivered to your inbox in a daily digest by clicking here