2014-03-21 / Columnists

Commentary On Things Present

By Peter Stubben

A screaming headline from today's NY Times Editorial Page - 'Out Of Control' - got me asking two questions: Why is Mayor de Blasio waging war on New York City's Charter Schools? And, Why is the mayor literally kicking a gift horse in the mouth... speaking of horses!

In central Harlem average kids in one school (a charter school) are scoring in the 70s and 80s, while across the street average kids in city schools are scoring in the 10s in Math and English. The charter school is costing city tax-payers almost nothing, while the city school across the street is costing tax-payers literally $20,000 per student.

Bill de Blasio, this windbag of a devil's advocate turned City Advocate and now elected Chief Advocate, keeps advocating...but not yet managing for the welfare and the benefit of the entire City of New York.

I'm confused. The mayor campaigned on bottoms-up issues... you know, 'up by the people' and 'up for the people'... and yet now as victor he denigrates and demonizes a sincere and privatelyfunded bottoms-up effort to improve education for the average New York City school kid. Did he learn these skills on his honeymoon to Cuba - who honeymoons, by the way, on the sunny streets of Castro's autocracy?

Years ago successful New Yorkers, concerned with the high drop-out rates and low test scores in the city's schools, began pledging to pay college tuitions for those students from their own alma-maters of so many years ago. From there these guys began seeking smarter and more effective ways to help... seeking to invest in these kids' futures as well as the nation's. They went to teachers, asking what's good and what's effective, and asking what's bad and what's obstructive. They came up with a little structure, a little pride, more teacher time, more study time, more teacherstudent time and more motherfather support. That's not hard is it? These guys then began to raise money among themselves bringing in people like Bill Murray and Bette Midler to help, and with these funds they began investing in (a) people: the kids, the teachers, the parents; and (b) places: the schools, the support systems.

Do average parents of average kids in Harlem, Newark, Kansas City and Milwaukee know what's goin' on? Do they ever???... They line up with their kids on cold nights and hot days to sign up their kids into these charters through the schools' lottery systems. You see, these schools do not say 'give me your brightest and best', they say 'give me your average kid who sees one world on TV and another out his window.'

And now our new and oh-soprogressive mayor is kicking in the teeth of these progressive schools! This self-styled Robin Hood is kicking in the teeth of The Robin Hood Foundation, among many others.

Patrick J. Lynch, Union President of the PBA, pleaded at a March 10th rally, "There's something in it for everybody. If a child cannot access a quality education, whether it is in a public, religious or charter school, then he or she will not succeed in life."

With better schools the 99 percent succeed. With more choices the 99 percent succeed. But the 1 percent doesn’t. I'm so sorry to say that it looks like our new mayor speaks more for the ideologues - the 1 percent - than 'the commonwealth living up and down the A line'... more for the Lenins of the world than the Lincolns of the world. The A line does not run through Park Slope, or Forest Hills, or the Upper East Side.

I hope he changes his mind... soon!

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