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 calls on Mayor Bill de Blasio to change course with the city's troubled school system.
The public school year ends this month in New York City and what I've been saying for two years is now becoming apparent to everyone. Under the leadership of Mayor Bill de Blasio and Schools Chancellor Carmen Fariña the situation is getting worse.
Last week the city's Independent Budget Office, or IBO, issued a report which paints a hopeless picture of de Blasio's signature renewal schools program and essentially predicts that the hundreds of millions of dollars allocated to pay for it will be wasted.
Instead of continuing Bloomberg's proven method of closing failing schools and opening new smaller schools in their place, de Blasio concocted a costly plan to placate the teacher's union and keep the city's 94 worst schools intact. The problem, as the IBO report points out, is that in the last year the failing schools have gotten worse and the challenges for success are formidable. Declining student enrollments, a short timeline to show measurable results and an already existing very low level of performance ensure that turnaround efforts will not work.
I can tell you now that most of these schools will continue to fail and by the end of the 2017 school year they will be turned over by law to an outside receiver. Mayor de Blasio and his team should take the hint from the IBO and scrap their ill-fated plan immediately.
Here are two solutions. First, they should follow the blueprint that works. Close the failing schools now and use the hundreds of millions of dollars to open new smaller schools in their place with smaller class sizes, effective teachers, and a real chance for success. And two, admit that charter schools are part of the solution and support raising the current cap and allowing real choice for our kids.
There is no hope for current students in these failing schools. Please, Mr. Mayor, do not fail another class.