Education has been a top priority for the Bloomberg administration. Since he took office in 2002, Bloomberg has vowed to increase teacher salaries, raise standardized test scores and students’ overall performance, in addition to improving parents’ involvement in their children’s educational futures. All of these options sound great, but only if they are given somewhat equal attention. Harlem is the prime example of how easy it is to boast about improvements in the school system, yet sidestep the areas that are still extremely lacking.
Bloomberg often touts impressive-sounding statistics. For example, the administration is quick to note that 500 new schools have been opened in the city, 100 low-performing schools are currently closing and 139 charter schools have been able to effectively function.
This has, in fact, transcended into positive results as it has encouraged parents to get more involved in their children’s education. It was Bloomberg’s goal to make education more of a shopping experience — meaning that parents can choose the school they want their children to attend much like they choose homes or cars. With the opening of new charter schools, parents are finding themselves with more options for their children than ever before.
Furthermore, Bloomberg’s goal to increase teacher salaries has actually materialized. In his State of the City speech in January 2012, he boasted about the 43 percent base salary increase that teachers have received throughout New York City over the last decade. Certainly this, in conjunction with more parent involvement, is an amazing accomplishment about which to boast. But what about the schools’ overall performance and the faltering standardized test scores? While a number of charter schools have been closed because of poor performance, but are going to be replaced by new ones, there still isn’t enough attention given to the quality of the actual education offered in these New York City schools.
For instance, The New York Times reports that of the 25 traditional elementary schools in Harlem and East Harlem, only a handful had at least 50 percent of children reading at or above their average grade level. This is an astonishing statistic and not an isolated instance. Public School 208, a small magnet school on West 111th Street, is famed for its advanced technology and unique greenhouse, yet 70 percent of their students cannot read at their grade level. Something must be done to change these faltering statistics, and focus needs to be drawn away from emergence of increased technology in the classroom, such as iPads and laptops for students. In reality, technology cannot make up for bad test scores. And it certainly won’t increase graduation rates.
While Bloomberg and Education Department officials acknowledge that more work must continue to improve New York City’s school system, it cannot be ignored that arguably the most important aspect of the educational system — school performance — is still nowhere near where it should be. Other factors such as increased wages for teachers and improved parent involvement are certainly positive steps in the right direction. Ultimately, it is the quality of the school and the performance of the students who attend the academic centers that matter the most.
A version of this article appeared in the Sept. 10 print edition. Brittany Sherman is a staff columnist. Email her at firstname.lastname@example.org.
- Weekend Roam: Little Germany
- WSN Editorial Board reflects on spring semester events
- Strawberry Festival promises delicious, intergalactic fun
- Clive Davis Institute collaborates with DJ Swivel
- Best places to dine on dumplings
- 'Heroes' is not super enough for Xbox Live film program launch
- NYU SLAM sees victory through 'badidas' campaign
- Victoria Ettore elected student council president
- Hester Street Fair hosts diverse vendors, delicious food