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State leaders seem bent on pushing everyone to leave NYC’s regular public schools

New Yorkers of all races and income levels have been fleeing the city’s regular public-school system, a huge vote of no-confidence in then-Mayor Bill de Blasio’s leadership. New Mayor Eric Adams wants to take a very different approach — but state leaders are doubling down on de Blasio-ism.

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Fresh data from the State Education Department show that Department of Education schools hemorrhaged students during the pandemic, with K-12 enrollment dropping 5.6% in the past year alone, to 821,000 students. And the Manhattan Institute’s Ray Domanico found that the drop was most dramatic in the lower grades: “This year’s kindergarten class is 14% smaller than the class two years ago,” with the picture similarly grim in grades 1-6.

Now the education site Chalkbeat reports that three-quarters of DOE schools saw enrollment drops this past year, with nearly a quarter losing 10% or more of their students. More, the drop among students from low-income families was nearly double the decline for families not living in poverty.

That’s a clear sign that de Blasio’s worst failure involved those he always claimed to care about most — and they know it.

Tellingly, enrollment at public charter schools, which the DOE doesn’t control, grew. Parochial schools gained, too.

Also telling: The news that charters approved by the SUNY Charter Institute vastly outperform nearby DOE schools. On state exams, these charter kids bested their DOE peers by 15 points in English and by 25 points in math.

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The report comes out just as state lawmakers contemplate a bill stripping SUNY of its legal authority to approve new charter schools. And the Legislature simply refuses to lift the cap that prevents new charters from opening in the city, despite a waitlist 50,000 kids long.

NYC Schools Chancellor David Banks has to face the city’s K-12 enrollment dropping 5.6% in the past year.
Gregory P. Mango

New York spends twice the national per-pupil average on its regular public schools but far less for charters, even as Empire State students (again, except for charters) do only middling on national exams. Yet Gov. Kathy Hochul’s budget plan hikes outlays for traditional schools 7%, sending more good money down a rat hole. And she offers the more effective charters only a 4.9% increase. (Her rationale: Charters manage to spend more efficiently!)

Meanwhile, the Legislature-controlled Board of Regents and State Education Department do everything they can to lower standards and so hide the truth.

We trust that Adams and Chancellor David Banks mean to do right by the city’s kids. Too bad they’ll have to fight the state every step of the way.

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