With a looming budget crisis and massive public contracts overdue, it’s fair to expect that public school class sizes will continue to inflate even as classroom budgets will continue to be reduced. Still, it seems that an increasing number of parents who can afford private school are sending their kids to public school.
The U.S. Census Bureau reported that private school enrollment has steadily decreased over the past 15 years, down to approximately 10 percent of American students. Here in New York City, private school enrollment decreased by 25,000 to 416,000 from 2007 to 2010 and, in the last two years, has continued down to 403,000 in 2012, according to state Education Department estimates.
“In this city, parents say you have to start your kids in private school so they can go on to the next, and the next, and get into Harvard or Yale, and that is such a bunch of crap. If your kid’s dumb, going to a ‘good’ school isn’t going to get them into Harvard or Yale,” Sam O’Connor, a restaurateur who originally hails from Ireland, said. His 5-year-old son attends the Spruce Street School in the new Frank Gehry Tower at 8 Spruce Street.
It shouldn’t be this hard to do right by the city’s public school children.
An arbitrator recently ruled that the Bloomberg administration could not go forward with plans to close—and then reopen—24 failing schools throughout the city. Why not? It would be wonderful to report that the arbitrator found that the city hadn’t gone far enough on behalf of students. But, alas, that’s not the case. Instead, the arbitrator contended that the plan violated labor contracts.
So it’s all about the teachers—and the teachers’ union.
Gov. Andrew Cuomo and the state Legislature chose discretion over valor in the battle over access to teacher evaluations in New York. Sometimes discretion is a good thing. But not in this case.
Mayor Bloomberg and others believed in full and unfettered access to teacher performance evaluations. They made the case that transparency would only help the effort to encourage good teachers and weed out the bad ones.
Unfortunately, the governor and legislators decided to limit access to the data to parents, who will be able to review evaluations of their childrens’ current teachers. While that’s better than nothing—and bear in mind that the unions fought the whole idea of performance evaluations to the bitter end—it’s a far cry from the sort of transparency that Mr. Bloomberg and his allies sought.