As New York students head back to school, de Blasio and Carranza accentuate the positives — but not all is rosy

to the new cut the ribbon at the
Courtesy of the Mayor’s office

Mayor Bill de Blasio and Schools Chancellor Richard Carranza visited schools in all five boroughs on the first day of the 2019-20 school year welcoming youngsters and their parents enrolled in 3-K for All which is now available across the city.

As of Sept. 5, nearly 17,700 students were enrolled in 3-K with total enrollment projected to reach 22,000 this fall.

The Mayor spotlighted all that is going well in the nation’s largest public school system including the Excellence for All agenda, now in its fourth year, which continues to lead students to academic success such as graduation rates that are higher than ever and a dropout rate that is lower than ever, according to City Hall.

“There is nothing like the promise of the first day of school. With four-times more kids getting 3K, more AP classes than ever before, and dedicated in districts facing some of the greatest challenges, this year is guaranteed to be transformative,” de Blasio said. “Our Equity and Excellence agenda is working. Pre-K is helping close the achievement gap, graduation rates are up, and more students are college ready. I am so proud of our students and educators. I can’t wait to see what they’ll accomplish this year.”

The Equity and Excellence for All agenda is expanding to include work to address systemic obstacles faced by underserved students, school and communities, including innovative school governance models to promote teacher recruitment and retention, improvements to instruction and school support and diversity grants to school districts to foster integration.

“Today, 1 of every 300 Americans sits in a New YorkCity public school, each with a different story behind them and a different story ahead of them,” Carranza said. “As educators, it is our great responsibility to give each student the instruction and support they need to meet the high bar we’ve set. On this first day of the 2019-20 school year, we’re focused on meeting each student where they are, knowing they are capable of reaching any goal they can imagine, and helping them achieve excellence.”

In Queens, City Councilman Daniel Dromm, the Chairman of the Finance Committee, touted 3-K, the nation’s most ambitious effort to provide universal free, full-day, high-quality early childhood education for every three-year-old.

“The expansion of 3-K for All is a major win for New York City families,” Dromm said. “Now all NYC students have access to the foundational education they need to thrive in higher grades. I commend the administration for prioritizing this program. As a former daycare center teacher and director, I have seen firsthand how impactful an investment in early childhood education can be. I look forward to continuing to work with the mayor and Chancellor to develops this worthy initiative.”

Meanwhile, the Mayor was getting low grades from parents in Southeast Queens who will rally at Roy Wilkins Park on Sept. 26 to protest their two-year wait for classrooms promised by the administration in 2017.

Without a middle school location, up to 200 fifth graders will be forced to leave Success Academy next year and return to zoned schools where less than half the students are able to read or do math, they claim.

“I cannot believe Mayor de Blasio would force my child out of the best school he’s ever known,” Dr. Keisha Phillips-Kong, a Success Academy Rosedale parent, said. “That’s why my family will rally. My son loves this school. The mayor should support great schools, not throw up roadblocks.”

There are at least five public schools in Southeast Queens with 450 to 725 empty seats each that could be used for Success Academy space. Parents have been trying to get de Blasio’s attention since July, making more than 350 phone calls to his office and meeting with local officials for support and last month a Success Academy Rosedale parent launched a petition that now has more than 10,000 signatures.

“The Mayor is abandoning children just as they are reaching critical middle school years,” Success Academy Founder and CEO Eva Moskowitz said. “This mayor talks about being a public school parent, yet he is utterly indifferent to these families.”

There are 2,000 Success Academy Queens students with another 3,000 on this year’s waiting list. Nearly 87% of the students are children of color.