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Bill de Blasio’s War on Education

The mayor is after charters and exams.

By 8.18.14

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With the next school year just a month away, New York City’s progressive mayor Bill de Blasio is continuing his war against academic achievement.

In his bid for mayor, de Blasio the class warrior cried that there are two New Yorks. He wasn’t entirely wrong: there’s the New York of Bill de Blasio and the New York of Governor Andrew Cuomo.

Cuomo is an interesting character in American politics. As the Democratic Party moves to placates the left wing of its base—including teachers unions—Cuomo, setting his sights on a future White House bid, has been very tepid about moving too far from the center. He has compromised with the Republican-controlled state senate on many issues, one being charter schools.

Much to the chagrin of the progressive mayor, who seems to want to shackle lower-income children to underperforming public schools, Governor Cuomo worked with the legislature earlier this year to protect charter schools—and they seem set to thrive in the Big Apple.

On August 6, Governor Cuomo held a meeting with Mayor de Blasio and Eva Moskowitz, CEO of the Success Academy charter-school network. Despite all his huffing and puffing on the campaign trail, de Blasio caved. Two days after the meeting was held he agreed to find space for three more of the Academy’s charter schools for 2015. Now Success Academy has announced it intends to open fourteen new schools over the next two years.

This has not sat well with members of the progressives and far-left New York City Council. Ten members of the education committee signed a letter urging that the plan be stopped. The city must pay charters about $13,000 per student, which they oppose. “The city has to pay for privately run, unaccountable charter schools,” whined Councilman Dan Dromm. Nevermind that this is a savings of $6,000 from the more than $19,000 it costs New York City to educate each student enrolled in public schools.

Grandstanding aside, New York City has room for 46 more charter schools before it’d reach the cap of 256  under state law. The city seems likely to hit that cap sooner than later. When that happens, will Cuomo and the legislature step up again in defense of charters?

Meanwhile, Mayor de Blasio is going after the merit-based system behind eight of New York City’s specialized high schools, which include Stuyvesant, the Bronx High School of Science, and Brooklyn Technical High School. Since the 1970s, enrollment of whites, blacks, and Hispanics at these schools has plummeted and Asians have become the majority—73 percent at Stuyvesant, 62 percent and Bronx Science, and 61 percent at Brooklyn Tech, according to the New York Post.

De Blasio has made it his new goal to make these schools abandon exam scores as a way of judging admission and institute racial quotas, punishing Asian students who work hard and study to do well on the test.

The only Democratic candidate who has picked up on de Blasio’s message so far is Asian-American former Comptroller John Liu, who is running for the state senate. “We’re not in Asia,” Liu said, explaining his support for changing admissions criteria. “This is America and we can do better.”

No telling if it’s likely to happen. Asian-Americans are a growing demographic but have yet to mobilize in large numbers. But so long as the current mayor and City Council are in control, there’s no telling who else might have to suffer in the name of “fairness.” 

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About the Author

Ryan James Girdusky has previously been published at Human Events, DailyCaller.com and Christian Science Monitor. Follow him on Twitter @RyJamesG.