Mayor Bill de Blasio and his Department of Education are ignoring the growing exodus of students from the city’s most coveted public schools — surely because it’s a response to the DOE’s failures and de Blasio’s war on excellence.
Notably, PS 118 Maurice Sendak in Park Slope has seen its student roster lose 120 kids since the start of the pandemic. Its dismayed principal, Elizabeth Garraway, just e-mailed parents that the resulting budget crunch forced her to slash four teaching positions — while four others left for better opportunities. Sadly, that’s likely to send even more families fleeing.
Kindergarten enrollment at the high-performing elementary school has plunged more than 50 percent over the last two years, going from 76 in 2019 to just 37 last year.
That’s surely not just the pandemic: The DOE-engineered revamping of middle-school admissions in the district, tossing out the screens that allowed some schools to be more challenging, has forced many families to rethink the public schools entirely, as did the scrapping of Gifted & Talented programs.
COVID certainly didn’t help: The DOE says citywide enrollment at its schools fell 4 percent — roughly 43,000 kids — this year, and the true figure is likely higher still. The failure to make remote-learning work angered parents all across the city, and fears that in-person school still will have problems this coming year pushed many to find other alternatives, such as religious or private schools that, despite the pandemic, opened for safe, full-time schooling.
The DOE leadership’s habit of treating parental demands for excellence as nothing but racism hurts, too.
Queens state Sen. Leroy Comrie captured the sentiments of his mainly minority constituents: “If chronic underperformance doesn’t scare away successful students, then the pervasiveness of violence and bullying does. Enrollment is dipping and the DOE continues to operate as if the problem will solve itself.”
If the next mayor doesn’t act fast to reverse de Blasio’s disastrous policies, every family that can will be rushing for the exits.
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