Educational Options

Achievement rates in reading, writing, math, science and history have fallen dramatically in NYC since the pandemic. We can no longer stand by and do nothing while another generation of young people is deprived of future career opportunities, advancement or quality jobs of the future.

We must increase support and accountability of all stakeholders from students and parents, to teachers, principals, superintendents, the Chancellor and the Mayor. Improving 3K, Pre-K and elementary school curriculum and learning must be a priority. Just like we must support struggling students and student with learning disabilities with specialized programs that fit their learning needs, we must also support accelerated learners with specialized programs that meet their needs as well.

We need to move decisively and return to merit-based admissions throughout the public school system and eliminate the lottery. Merit based entrance exams for specialized programs will improve outcomes for all students. This cannot wait any longer. In the meantime, charter schools will continue to play a necessary role and provide parents and students with an alternative when the only option is a sub-standard public school.

There are significant challenges in a system where so many kids have fallen behind, but we cannot give up on this generation of children. Reducing standards sends a message to struggling students and their parents that teachers and schools believe these kids are incapable of meeting higher standards. This approach undermines students, is psychologically damaging and contributes to low self-esteem. Such thinking exposes the bigotry of low expectations.

Eschewing objective standards will produce widespread mediocrity and personal unfulfillment because it severs the link between work and reward. Taking away a student’s incentive to achieve will leave us with a generation of victims of failed policies who will not have the skills to obtain excellent and high quality jobs, or be able to compete in the global economy and will perpetuate poverty and inequality.
This approach not only hurts marginalized students, but also higher-performing students who are forced into a learning environment that is not conducive to their abilities, and will lead to further departures from public schools.

The move to abolish specialized high school admissions testing is particularly misguided. Contrary to popular myth, specialized high school students are not all of higher economic status. Instead, many are from lower income and middle-class families who cannot afford private schools. Specialized high schools provide a path to upward mobility that many kids would otherwise not have.

We must reinforce the message to students that effort and ability are recognized and rewarded. NYC’s public education system should be flexible enough to incentivize hard work and provide an environment suited to the ability and potential of each student. NYC public schools must redouble its effort to help our kids succeed and fulfill their dreams in an evolving and increasingly complex world.

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