A NYT editorial on de Blasio’s ed plans
Yet these ambitious initiatives will fail or fall short if the quality of reading instruction is mediocre or if the program becomes a patronage boondoggle in which well-connected people are hired regardless of talent. Truly dysfunctional schools are unlikely to be helped by the addition of reading specialists, no matter how skilled the specialists are. To rescue children stuck in such schools, Mr. de Blasio must be willing to dissolve the schools and begin again with a new staff and new leadership.
Mr. de Blasio's predecessor, Michael Bloomberg, used this strategy to great advantage, closing schools that were essentially dropout factories and starting afresh with institutions that yielded higher graduation rates. The de Blasio administration has criticized this approach, preferring instead to give struggling schools what it describes as "supports" and using the shutdown option as a last resort. But given the pressing need for better education in poor communities, the city should not shy away from dissolving schools — either through outright closure or negotiated agreements with the teachers union — and starting again with a clean slate.
Mayor de Blasio's School Agenda
The education initiatives that Mayor Bill de Blasio outlined in a long-awaited speech earlier this week, though modest in scope, address some serious challenges facing the largest school system in the country. Collectively, they call for $186 million in new city investment, and in the abstract they appear wholly worthy. But the city has yet to provide details on how the initiatives will be rolled out or the benchmarks against which they will be judged. And for the reforms to fully realize their potential, some failing schools may have to be shut down and completely restaffed and restructured.
It has long been clear that the system is failing at its most basic function — teaching children to read. Students fall behind early and never catch up. Part of the problem is that teachers generally are poorly prepared to teach reading and to reach children who do not catch on automatically. Mr. de Blasio calls for