Perdido 03

Perdido 03

Sunday, March 23, 2014

De Blasio's Vision For Public Schools - Fairness And Opportunity For All

Leonie Haimson has posted about the Riverside Church speech Mayor de Blasio gave today, articulating his vision for the public school system.

Here is an excerpt in which he addresses the charter co-location controversy:

“The answer is not to save a few of our children only.  The answer is not to find an escape route that some can follow and others can’t. The answer is to fix the entire system.  (sustained applause)… so we have to approach systemic change. …Poverty, hunger, the lack of affordable housing…  But even within the education system itself we aren’t approaching root causes and the systemic changes we need to.  We have to work from the assumption that we will save every child, that we will reach every child, that no system is working unless every child has opportunity. And we need to be able to say that despite the good efforts of many the school system is still broken in many ways…We need to work on solutions for the whole and the original notion of the charter movement was to innovate, to create laboratories …to bring to the entire school system. …The idea is not to create separation, the kind of competition that works for some and leaves some out…For 6% of our children in the charters, they are our children; we need them to succeed.  For 94% of the children in the traditional public schools they are our children, we need them to succeed. 
The notion that some children may be “lucky” enough to escape from the traditional public schools in their neighborhood speaks volumes, because so many parents feel that right now…I want that parent to know that we will not accept the neighborhood  school that fails them …Our mission is to create a city in which regardless of zip code, your neighborhood public school is a great option for your child.  (sustained applause.)
There has been failure, we should not sweep it under the rug….It’s all of us in public life that haven’t measured up… well I say to you today that in my mayoralty… It is my responsible to fix the problem, and I won’t choose between the children of this city any more that any parent would choose between the children in their family.  I will reach out to all the children in the city, in traditional public schools, in charters schools, in religious schools… they all deserve a solution.   
We made some decisions in the last weeks striving for fairness, but …I didn’t measure up in explaining this to the people of this city.  We want want children to have good options, but not displacing or harming other children in the schools to which they may go.  We will make sure that 194 children [in Success Academy] have a good home this year, but we will not do this at the expense of our special education children.  That is a false choice has been set up as part of a broken system and a broken dialogue; and it's time to ending that kind of dysfunction … So we’ll protect the children who need our help while not pitting one against another."

Extraordinary words in defense of a system that seeks to work for all.

I wish he and Chancellor Farina had been ready to go with this when they announced the charter co-location changes.

Alas, they weren't and the public relations damage to de Blasio, Farina and traditional public schools has been heavy. 

$4 million in pro-charter, anti-de Blasio ads does that sort of thing.

Still, better late than never to articulate this vision of a system that works for all.

It won't assuage the clowns on the Morning Joe Clown Show or the charter lobbyist in the governor's mansion, but it may touch some in this city who are unsettled by those ads on the TV and wonder just how it is a charter network that can't afford rent can somehow afford to spend over a $1 million a week on propaganda on every network plus cable.

And in the end, these are words that matter:

"We’ll protect the children who need our help while not pitting one against another...I won’t choose between the children of this city any more than any parent would choose between the children in their family."

That's a much different vision than the one articulated by the charter school lobbyist in Albany who says only charter school children matter.