Lew's View: Mayor's schools plan

Lew Leone is the vice president and general manager of WNYW-FOX 5. He is taking to the airwaves with his thoughts on current affairs. It's called "Lew's View." The views expressed are not necessarily those of the station or its employees.

In this commentary, Mr. Leone looks at Mayor de Blasio's schools plan.


New York City is facing an education crisis. Two-thirds of the students in our public schools recently failed to pass the state's math and English exams. In 75 schools, not one student in a grade passed the tests.

We waited almost a year for Mayor Bill de Blasio to lay out his strategy for dealing with failing schools. Last week, he unveiled his proposed solution. It was extremely disappointing.

Dubbed the "School Renewal" plan, it's a three year effort which comes with a $150 million price tag. The Mayor's idea is to supply social services to families and students and create so-called Community School environments. The plan comes with appealing buzzwords like "collaboration" and "professional development".

The strategy is simply not urgent enough: Three years is far too long to see if an experiment can work. And it targets just 94 of the city's 1,700 schools.

But here is the larger problem: There is not one example of a large failing New York City School ever being turned around. The only thing that has worked has been the Bloomberg administration's policy of shutting down schools plagued by low achievement and high crime and opening smaller, more manageable schools in their place.

We know that failing schools tend to exist in poor and minority neighborhoods, which have higher numbers of inexperienced and lower-performing teachers. These facts were used to win a recent California court decision abolishing teacher tenure. Without similar reforms in New York, we are doomed to rely upon the same people to achieve different results.

Unfortunately, one of De Blasio's first acts upon taking office was to give the teacher's union virtually everything its leaders asked for, including a promise to roll back the policy of closing failing schools. It was a depressing contrast to Bloomberg's actions: Owing no favors to the union, he fought a remarkably successful battle to fix broken schools.

Mayor De Blasio's plan promises to maintain the status quo and insure continued failure. New York City's school children deserve better.


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