OPINION: Bronx Parent Says Mayor de Blasio Is Wrong On Schools

By Sharita Moore-Willis 

Recently, Mayor Bill de Blasio went in front of the Association for a Better New York and told the crowd that he doesn’t “accept the notion of the good school and the bad school” in New York City. If he doesn’t see a difference between the schools in our richest areas and the schools in our poorest areas, then Mayor de Blasio is living in a Gracie Mansion fantasy land. Maybe it’s true for your neighborhood, Mr. Mayor, that all the schools are good, but it’s not true for kids in the Bronx.

The schools in my neighborhood aren’t good schools. I have seen them fail my neighbors year after year. My daughter Shayla goes to a public charter school all the way on the Lower East Side, because her zoned school wouldn’t be able to take care of her. She needs more than the status quo that our neighborhood schools offer. All public school children deserve more than these failing schools.

In the Bronx, there are over 60,000 children in schools that have a majority of students scoring at Level 1 on their state exams. Level 1 shows the inability to read or do basic math. That is 45% of all Bronx schools. These are schools where 89% are low income and 90% are Black and Hispanic. I’d like to see Mayor de Blasio tell these children, the highest need kids in New York City, that there’s no such thing as a bad school.

The truth is, there are hundreds of schools across New York City that have failed generations of low income Black and Brown children. These are bad schools – schools like J.H.S. 145 Arturo Toscanini, which has never had more than 8% of its students read or do math at grade level in the Common Core era, or I.S. 229 Roland Patterson, which has never had more than 13% of its students read or do math at grade level in the Common Core era. These aren’t new problems, they’ve been this way for decades. How can Mayor de Blasio say these aren’t bad schools when they’ve failed to educate almost every single one of their students for over 40 years – since the Mayor himself was in grade school!

It seems to be Mayor de Blasio’s policy to close his eyes to the real problems facing New York City. He is ignoring a crisis, and in the process turning his back on those who need help the most. Mayor de Blasio, ignoring the problem does nothing for the hundreds of thousands of children being set up to fail.

That’s why parents from across the city – including thousands here in the Bronx – are organizing in support of the #PathtoPossible movement. 25,000 parents rallied last month in Prospect Park, and we were joined by our Borough President, Ruben Diaz Jr. Last week, thousands of teachers joined the cause and rallied in Foley Square. Our message is simple: Mayor de Blasio must stop his opposition to our schools, and start treating charter school students fairly. If Mayor de Blasio really wants to help kids in the Bronx, he’ll allow charter schools to serve 200,000 students, and give each of them access to the quality public space that they are entitled to by law.

Only then will our Mayor truly be a mayor for all kids, one who does what is necessary to give children stuck in failing schools a pathway to real opportunity.

Sharita Moore-Willis is a public charter school parent from the South Bronx.


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