The War on Merit

Mayor Bill de Blasio is attacking school choice and shuttering merit programs in the name of progress.

If Mayor de Blasio wants to return New York to the halcyon days of his imagination—the days before school reform, historically low crime rates and adult supervision in City Hall—he appears to have the right strategy in place: Declare war on merit and innovation in the classroom.

The streets in some thriving neighborhoods, including Park Slope, will be jammed with moving vans in no time.

Last week, Schools Chancellor Carmen Fariña announced that the Department of Education will redirect $210 million in capital funds that had been earmarked for charter schools. That money will be applied to pre-K programs—you know, the very programs that Governor Andrew Cuomo has promised to fund.

Meanwhile, a popular program for gifted and talented students in Brooklyn’s P.S. 139 has been scrapped, apparently because it is not diverse enough for bureaucratic bean-counters. This move comes on the heels of attacks on admissions procedures at some of the city’s selective high schools, including Stuyvesant, for the same alleged offense.

Charter schools and G&T programs have boosted confidence in the city’s school system and have reassured parents who might otherwise have left for the suburbs in search of a good education for their kids. These families have helped revitalized entire neighborhoods, from the South Bronx to the North Shore of Staten Island.

The ideologues in City Hall, however, believe that merit and achievement are outdated concepts embraced by undeserving elites.

They clearly have some lessons to learn about governance.