Lefties hate charter schools almost as violently as they do Republicans and the Bill of Rights. The rising Left has also meant a renewed assault on charter schools in major cities, including New York City, where Mayor Bill de Blasio remains a notorious charter school foe.
But meanwhile the public school system continues reminding us that it’s a hole into which hope and money vanish in equal measures.
Mayor Bill de Blasio is canceling one of his signature education initiatives, acknowledging that despite spending $773 million he was unable to turn around many long-struggling public schools in three years after decades of previous interventions had also failed.
The end of the initiative, called Renewal, is a blow to Mr. de Blasio, who had hoped that success would bolster his effort to build a national reputation for innovative policies. Urban educators around the country had also looked to Renewal as a model for improving underperforming schools in historically troubled districts, rather than closing them.
Renewal failed. It wasted a lot of money because it ignored the reality that you can’t reform a system dominated by entrenched educratic interests whose agendas have nothing to do with education, and everything to do with corruption, identity politics and political power.
School choice work. Throwing more money into a system that gobbles billions, doesn’t.
The victims, as usual, are the kids.
The New York Times reported in October that Mr. de Blasio was preparing to close Renewal, and that city officials had known some Renewal schools were likely to fail but had left most of them open anyway. As a result, officials essentially kept thousands of children in classrooms where they had little if any chance of thriving.
Politics was more important. Meanwhile smart parents had been getting their kids out of there long before the ax fell.
The Renewal label itself caused parents to seek other options, causing enrollment in some schools to plummet.
The teachers’ union won. Students, as usual, lost.
Many advocacy groups and local politicians, including Mr. de Blasio, then the public advocate, railed against school closures. The city’s teachers’ union, the United Federation of Teachers, was the most powerful lobby against closures. The union’s president, Michael Mulgrew, who has a close ear to the ground in schools, has been critical of the Renewal program’s execution.
But because the program was based on the union-friendly theory that struggling schools need more resources, rather than more effective teachers, Mr. Mulgrew may face fresh questions about not only the execution but the design of the program.
So did taxpayers.
Mr. de Blasio insisted on Monday that developing a close relationship with the teachers’ union has led to a stronger school system. He said that ongoing conflict between Mr. Bloomberg’s administration and the U.F.T. led to “paralysis and conflict,” and he pointed to the national turn away from education reform and toward teachers, as is evident in the recent wave of teacher strikes and growing political hostility toward charter schools.
A close relationship with a municipal union leads to corruption, shortchanging taxpayers and worsening services.
That’s De Blasio’s legacy.