Finding a cure for public education’s ills

A panel of New York educators and politicians advocated for accountability, rigor, and innovation as they explored the future of public education in the city on Tuesday.

Distinguishing between the elusive “silver bullet” solution and a more realistic “golden arsenal,” approach, the panelists at Crain’s Future of New York conference agreed that only a multi-pronged effort can fix an education system widely regarded as broken.

Low test scores and oversized classes plague primary schools throughout the boroughs, and while the city’s graduation rates continue to rise, the focus on that number may have come at the expense of college readiness. As few as a quarter of graduates leave high school prepared for higher education, New York state officials announced in June.

College readiness “hasn’t even been a goal in the past decade,” said David Weiner, the Department of Education’s Deputy Chancellor for Talent, Labor and Innovation. “We aren’t preparing our students to succeed in higher education.” He recommended that the data tracking high school graduates should be used more effectively.

To address the epidemic, high schools and colleges must communicate, said City University of New York Chancellor Matthew Goldstein.

“More educators are sharing data,” he said, “but the two different worlds aren’t talking to each other to the degree they should.”

Meanwhile in elementary schools, the curricula fail to challenge students, said Eva Moskowitz, the founder of Harlem Success Academy.

Teachers begin the first grade by teaching students topics they already learned in kindergarten. Compare this with curricula in other countries, Ms. Moskowitz said, and “you would potentially conclude that someone thinks Americans are stupid.”

Schools must push students at a more rigorous pace, said Ms. Moskowitz, who runs charter schools in the city and expects students and teachers to reach for higher standards.

This story appeared in Crain’s New York Business.

About Eliza Ronalds-Hannon