Student achievement in New York City public schools, on average, has improved under Mayor Bill de Blasio. Students in the city now score higher than the average for the rest of New York state on annual state tests. This school year may well be lost to the COVID-19 crisis and the state of New York has cancelled the 2020 state assessments, so we won’t be able to know how things stand at the end of this year. But when schools return to normal, there still will be a crisis in the New York City school system: the persistent failure of schools in certain areas of the city. These individual failing schools and unlucky communities deserve bold action, something that the mayor has failed to provide, despite rosy promises of renewal early on in his mayoralty.
In the final two years of his tenure, de Blasio should admit defeat in one critical area of education policy and bring back an approach that worked well for his predecessor.
New Yorkers may be surprised to learn that if each of the city’s boroughs had its own school system, and if each borough were compared as a county against the other 57 counties in the state, four of the city’s boroughs would be among the top seven highest performing counties in the state in “English language arts,” and among the top nine counties in math. The exception, as I document in a forthcoming Manhattan Institute issue brief, is the Bronx. The Bronx is among the six lowest performing counties in math and is 23rd from the bottom in English.
Ray Domanico is a senior fellow and director of education policy at the Manhattan Institute. He is the author of the upcoming report, “NYC Student Achievement: What State and National Test Scores Reveal.”
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