Farina, de Blasio Under Fire for School Improvement Plans

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New York City Schools Chancellor Carmen Farina said in a letter to the leaders of 247 struggling schools last week that city Education Department officials have created final improvement plans which will be a condition for some funding of city schools, according to city education officials, according to Ben Chapman of the Daily News.

“While I know that we can always revise and reflect on these goals, it is important that these documents serve as accountability tools,” Fariña wrote in the letter to school leaders.

Students and families have been waiting all summer for these turnaround plans, promised by the de Blasio administration, because without them tens of millions of dollars in education funding is at risk. The city waited patiently, but one principal, of the Boys and Girls HS, resigned because he believed the city was abandoning his students. Frank Garcia, in an op-ed article for the New York Post, said that Mayor de Blasio finally announced a major address concerning NYC’s struggling schools would be delivered. Most, including Garcia’s organization, the NYS Coalition of Hispanic Chambers of Commerce, made the assumption that a plan was imminent.

Instead, the announcement was a plan to transform less than 100 schools into “community schools”, which have a mixed record of success. From that time, the mayor’s plan has been faced criticism. Even one of the mayor’s most fervent support groups, the Coalition for Educational Justice, called his plan too vague.

On top of that, the city requested yet another extension. Garcia says that the mayor has a duty to expand access to top-quality schools, which includes charter schools. If he does not, the targeted students will have no other educational options.

Garcia adds that in the communities where his organization does its work, almost one-fifth of the parent members of the Hispanic Chamber of Commerce have students who are in high-performing schools. Still, there are tens of thousands of children who cannot get into charter schools and will graduate without what it takes to start careers or attend a college or university, which will affect the economy for all New York citizens. If the mayor does not take action bygiving every parent a choice to give their students a good school, district or charter, Garcia believes that it will end in serious problems down the road.

He should follow the law, and aggressively expand, promote and support good schools in New York City, giving 143,000 students trapped in failing schools the option of transferring to a better district or charter school.

If Mayor de Blasio doesn’t have a plan for New York City’s struggling schools, he should let this city’s parents show the way — and our parents are choosing quality schools.

Farina announced two weeks ago that graduation rates are up in New York City.  Brooklyn News 12 reports that for those students who entered ninth grade in 2010, more than 68% graduated in four years, which is an increase of 2% from the year before. The dropout rate fell to about 8%, an approximate 1% decrease.