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Adams, Banks are refusing to fight for good public schools


Perhaps Michael Bloomberg’s greatest achievement as mayor was fostering the creation of more good public schools in the city, giving middle-class families more reason to stay and lower-income parents real hope for their kids. Mayor Bill de Blasio then went to war on those schools — and the Eric Adams administration keeps blinking on undoing the damage.

Part of Blas’ war was prolonged assault on charters. But another was an attack on selective middle and high schools in the name of “equity.” And the results are now in from one of the most controversial moves: the “Diversity Plan” imposed on Brooklyn’s District 15 in 2018.

City Hall spent big to muscle D15 into “voluntarily” shifting all middle-school admissions to a lottery managed by educrats, ending the screens that some schools used to ensure new students were prepared for demanding classwork.

The plan was announced from MS 51, the school Blas’ own children (and those of then-City Council Brad Lander, another big booster of the plan) had already graduated from. 

Prior to the change, the school had been the fourth biggest feeder to specialized high schools in the city. Now it’s the 16th. And it’s not just the most gifted who are hurting: seventh-grade math proficiency scores have fallen from 81% to 48%, with huge declines across all the racial groups the city tracks — a level of learning loss worse than other schools saw amid the pandemic — as student concerns over safety skyrocket.

We only know this now because a group of outraged parents fought for the info under the Freedom of Information laws. But in the meantime, Team Blas fostered similar changes in Manhattan’s District 2, then exploited the pandemic to impose lotteries on selective schools across the city. And today merit-based admissions are back only at 30% of previous levels.

That’s likely a permanent change, because Chancellor David Banks left every district’s superintendent to decide on whether to allow the return of selective admissions, and many declined — including District 2’s Kelly McGuire, who simply ignored clear parent fervor to save school standards.

It’s easier not to stand for excellence against moves in the name of “equity” that in reality on deliver mediocrity — at best.

Citywide public-school enrollment is already plummeting, and this will only speed up the exodus. 

One safety valve could be allowing greater growth of charters, alternate public schools that offer new opportunity, especially for striving low-income families in areas where the regular public schools don’t deliver. But Team Adams isn’t standing up for them, either.

We’re thinking, of course, of Banks’ recent decision, plainly in cooperation with the Mayor’s Office, to give up on long-laid plans to provide space for three new Success Academy primary schools. That’s a signal that all charters will find it near-impossible to grow, even though Blas is finally gone.

The ideologues and special interests like the United Federation of Teachers don’t care about what parents want or children need; they’d rather rule absolutely over a public-education system that’s dying — and a mayor and chancellor who surely know better won’t fight back.

It’s a tragedy in (not very) slow motion. 


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