We’ve made no secret of our support for private school families. That is fair and it is right. But we are not, and have never been, anti-public school. To the contrary, our policy position is that every child, in every community across America ought to have access to the best education available.
So it is no surprise – or it shouldn’t be – that we are a member of the Learn-NY coalition, which is supporting continued mayoral control of NYC schools. Over 1 million children are educated in New York City public schools, making it the largest school district in the nation (interestingly, if the Satmar chasidic school system was a public school district, it would be the third largest in the state; we have no idea where it would fit nationally). Many of those students are immigrants, or poor or minority or all of the above.
As people of the book, for whom education is a prime value – Sir Jonathan Sacks, Britain’s Chief Rabbi, has called teachers Judaism’s greatest heroes and schools our citadels – it is no surprise we want to see the very best for all students. It is morally right. Our neighbors’ children deserve a solid education. And the results so far, are very promising. Data shows that NYC schools are doing a better job than they were 5 years ago. For example, formerly, across the board, by every measure, student achievement was low. Now, New York City students have made measurable improvements in math, reading and other core subjects. Students are improving faster than their peers in other large cities across the state, with average test scores as much as 20 points higher and graduation rates up 20 per cent. Moreover, whereas previously few options were available for students, other than several selective high schools, now more than 350 new district and charter schools have been developed. This has forced poorly performing schools to close, thereby allowing their resources to be allocated elsewhere and their students enrolled in better schools where they have a chance to succeed.
So with weeks left for the State Legislature to renew mayoral control or revert to the status quo, it is up to us to speak up for our kids – and our neighbors. If you want to join us, please contact your state legislators; please click here for the Assembly and here for the Senate.