Thursday, August 18, 2016

De Blasio's Dilemma: How Can He Maintain "Progressive Bluster" yet Eschew Educational Change?

New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio, notes Robert J. Bellafiore in an entertaining post peppered with references to the Three Stooges and Abbott and Costello, is on “wrong side of history.” The mere mention of charter schools appears to trigger a kind of tic in the Mayor's countenance whenever a reporter asks him about the results of this year’s proficiency tests, which showed that traditional school students improved marginally and charter school students improved substantially.

Here’s Bellafiore:
With a week’s worth of snark and sniffling, de Blasio managed to: 
a) Insult every charter student who did well on the state exams by saying they were trained to score well, like puppies are trained to do tricks;
b) Denigrate the hard work put in by hundreds of school teachers; and
c) Tell thousands of mostly black and lower-income city parents their children’s accomplishments were a fraud. 
He even referred to kids in city schools as “our children.” Meaning charter school students are whose children, exactly? 
Well, exactly. Hasn’t the Mayor been paying attention to the increasing clamor of parents, especially those of color, for options besides traditional schools? Why is de Blasio “clutching to a centralized bureaucratic mindset that tells parents obviously unhappy with the city’s schools to ‘suck it up’ and send their kids there anyway?" Why does he “barnacle himself to a public education system that imposes its will on people who don’t have the means or the mobility to exercise their own?" With all his “progressive bluster,” why is he “tied to the old way?”

Bellafiore has a suggestion for the Mayor. Accept that charter enrollment will grow and that empowered parents will continue to demand choice. Like James Earl Jones said in The Field of Dreams, “people will come." Instead of the trigger-happy defiance, Mr. Mayor, consider this position instead:
Look, you know I have concerns with some charters. But some of them appear to be done very well. Yes, there probably are things we can learn. We don’t have a monopoly on good ideas so we’re gonna take a look. It can only help what we do for the one million kids in the city schools.
 "What’s there to lose?" asks Bellafiore. Even Nixon went to China.

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