Mayor Bill de Blasio has Ernest Logan the head of the Council of Supervisors Union that he is speaking to at the rally.
Ernie, I’ve got thank you for your powerful and passionate voice on behalf of our children. My friends, Ernie Logan has spent literally his entire life supporting our children, and he is retiring as president of CSA this summer. And he’s done an amazing job for his members and for all the children of this school system. But I want to tell you something that Ernie talks about all the time – how it was a teacher who turned his life around.
Ernie Logan’s an educator and a leader in this city. It might not have been that way, but a teacher turned his life around. And that is what we’re talking about today – whether we are going to continue to give our children that chance to be reached by great educators, to be put on a path where they fulfil their potential. That is what is hanging in the balance here – whether our schools are actually going to work for all our children or not. Because in the past they did not work for all our children, and we all saw with our own eyes the past in this city was not fair. It was not just. It was not right.
The rich got richer, the poor got poorer when it came to our school system. There was massive inequality. There were children left behind on a regular basis. There were schools that failed and nobody did anything about it. There was chaos and corruption. That’s what was all too true in too many of our districts. And there was nothing parents could do about it.
And we, in this city, came to the realization that we had been on the wrong path. That too many schools were failing, and too many children were failing, and there was no accountability. Literally no accountability, and it could not go on. And finally almost 15 years ago a change happened – a change that had been overdue for decades finally happened.
And what we have seen in the last 15 years has been breathtaking. Fifteen years ago we barely graduated 1 out of every 2 students from our high school. That was what was normal in New York City – about a 50 percent graduation rate. It was normal that our children didn’t do well enough, and somehow it got accepted. That’s less than 15 years ago. Today, due to what mayoral control allows in terms of speed and action and accountability – the ability to choose a great chancellor and let her do her job.
The graduation rate is one part of the puzzle. The dropout rate was the other piece of it. We used to talk about the dropout rate all the time in this city – in the 60s, in the 70s, in the 80s, in the 90s we talked about the dropout rate because 20 percent, 25 percent, 30 percent of our kids were dropping out. Never coming back.
We have more work to do. But at the end of the last school year only nine percent of our kids had dropped out – only nine percent, and we are on the right path. And year after year our students performed better. Year after year more of our students are going to college. But they’re not just students of one background. They’re students from every neighborhood, every zip code, every race, every ethnicity, every language because mayoral control also opened the doors for greater equity. The resources that we are putting into our schools for pre-K for all, for after school for all middle school kids, for the single shepherd initiative, for 3K coming up ahead – they will help to even up the score and give schools and districts that never got their fair share a chance to finally excel. That’s what this is about.
There’s only three days left. Three days left. Our children’s futures hang in the balance. Three days left – zero hour is coming in Albany for our children, and here’s the simple answer.
I say this to the Senate, the Assembly, and the Governor – get together and pass mayoral control now.
This is something that unites so many of us. And New Yorkers, we have strong opinions, and we often have different opinions from each other, but this is one where you find leaders of all stripes – elected officials, labor leaders, civic leaders, community leaders – in common cause because we do not want to go backwards. When we say chaos and corruption we mean it literally. For everyone who didn’t experience it, let me tell you. There were no guarantees that anything would be done for our children. There were too many places where things were broken, and there was nowhere to stop it.
There was corruption. It was rampant. It was obvious. There was patronage everywhere. Unqualified people got hired all the time. And nothing could stop it. And that hurt our children. That is why you see this outpouring. People who know and do not want to go back – a city that’s finally beginning to get it right on so many other fronts, and this would set us back years.
I want to thank everyone who’s here. Let me note first of all our colleagues from the City Council who have been so supportive.
Schools Chancellor Carmen Fariña: Well, first of all, I would like to recommend that our Albany legislatures read Profiles in Courage. This is a very important book that says do what’s right, not what’s politically expedient. And for our children to be held hostage to a system that has by every [inaudible] possible shown success if you look at every single criteria of what you need to do in an education system.
We’ve improved the graduation rate, we’ve reduced the dropout rate, we have put more students in college that are college ready than ever before. We have trained more teachers, we have filled in more vacancies, we have 600 teachers going into the Bronx alone from our teaching fellows. We have insured that all superintendents are held to a higher standard, that all teachers have the materials in their classrooms that they need to be effective teachers. We have made sure that parents receive not only what they need in English but we have now opened workshops in every single language that is a predominant language in New York City. That’s our report card, and when you get a good report card you get promoted.
And if you also look at the two things that are most accountable, we have insured that many parents now have a quality review where they’re allowed to give their impression of their respective schools. And don’t you think that I don’t read these quality reviews very deeply, and visit certain schools when I don’t thinks are going correctly.
We have also decided that there are some schools that need more help than others. Those are called renewal schools. But look at the other things besides accountability; if you’re going to run a business you need stability. Who is going to come and apply for a job when they don’t know who’s in charge? And in this system, the way it is right now, we’re in charge. And that makes for us to be accountable for the people who want to come and work; they know when they come to New York City what they’re going to come for.
Also, I don’t want to be too paranoid but I always have to ask myself is there a conspiracy theory here? Is what they say why they’re not voting for this, the reason they’re not voting for this. Is it about not having a New York City that works well for all kids?
I was a superintendent, I was a regional superintendent, I was a principal. I know what happens in a system where you can literally work on someone’s campaign and the next thing you knew you’d became a principal, an assistant principal.
By the way, all of you reporters, all you have to do is to your homework and that’s very, very evident. So is that what we want to go back to? Or do we want to make sure that everyone who’s a teacher in our school, an assistant principal, principal is the most qualitied to be there. And then also is held accountable by me and their superintendent.
We have a very clear hierarchy right now. There is a Mayor, there is a Chancellor, there is a superintendent, there are the principals, there are the teachers. It’s very clear. We don’t have all these other people coming in and trying to take a piece of this because of what’s in it for them.
So for me, I just hope that the people in Albany understand. Stand up, be courageous, and make believe that you’re voting as if your children and your grandchildren depended on it.
The above is taken from a rally at City Hall yesterday by the mayor for support of continued Mayoral Control of the public schools.
The mayor took a few questions from reporters, and I unfortunately received word that the rally was to be held in Albany not at City Hall so I was not in attendance.
I was a member of the Chancellor's Parent Advisory Council when current Chancellor Farina was Deputy Chancellor under then Chancellor Joel Klein. When Mayoral Control came in parents were taken out of the picture as Parent Coordinators were hired at every school, because in the words of then Deputy Mayor Ed Skylar 'The position of Parent Coordinator was created because Principals are to busy to deal with parents'.
Nothing has changed under the de Blasio administration. There is no accountability, and Mayoral Control must end.