New York City

De Blasio promotes plan for struggling schools

March 20, 2015 By Karen Matthews Associated Press
Bill de Blasio wants to provide extra support to struggling NYC schools. AP photo
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Mayor Bill de Blasio promoted his plan to boost the performance of struggling schools by providing extra support during a visit to a Queens high school Thursday.

De Blasio said Richmond Hill High School is improving since it was added to a list of 94 “renewal schools” receiving funds for services such as weekend tutoring and expanded after-school programs.

“The students, the faculty, everyone can tell that things are getting better,” he said.

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The mayor said 67 percent of Richmond Hill students across all grade levels are now on track to graduate, up from 60 percent at this point last year. The school was among those slated to be closed during previous Mayor Michael Bloomberg’s administration but was kept open by a lawsuit.

De Blasio said his administration “came along with a different philosophy” of helping struggling schools improve instead of closing them.

“We believe in fighting to turn around schools,” he said.

The mayor’s philosophy has clashed with the education priorities of Gov. Andrew Cuomo, who is proposing a state takeover of failing schools across New York state.

De Blasio said city officials “know a lot more about what we need for our children than bureaucrats in Albany do.”

He said Aimee Horowitz, his appointee responsible for turning around struggling schools, is looking into using statistics to track the performance of educators. He said Horowitz attended a Thursday meeting of the New York Police Department’s Compstat program to gain ideas.

The program uses crime data to identify crime patterns. The mayor said details of how educators would use lessons learned from the Compstat method have not been worked out.

The group Families for Excellent Schools, which supports charter schools and opposes many of de Blasio’s education policies, belittled the idea of using Compstat to fix schools.

“Our schools are not our streets,” Joe Herrera, an organizer with Families for Excellent Schools, said in a statement released by the group. “Mayor de Blasio’s approach for fixing New York’s failing schools by using a crime reporting tool is wrongheaded.”

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