Educators running for the doors, students running the classroom, school shutdowns, vaccine mandates and resource redistribution continue to plague the most segregated yet overly funded school system in the nation. The next mayor of New York will inherit a system that is already broken, but will they have any success in turning it around?
Former NYPD captain and mayoral front-runner Eric Adams has positioned himself as a man of law and order.
He favors improving police forces from the inside out rather than defunding them. He understands that raising taxes in the city will only create an exodus of high earners and make it more difficult for the city and state to be able to hire teachers, police officers and public workers. He has spoken vehemently against identity politics, calling out his more progressive counterparts for empty promises.
Adams appears to be one of the few reasonable Democrats left in the flock. He has the potential to serve New York City with just what it needs: radical centrist policies.
Among his most controversial ideas is the proposal to keep schools open year-round and provide a summer-learning option to give working families more flexibility.
Back in high school, I would have gouged my eyes out at the thought of missing summer break. Adams’ plan, however, does not necessarily mean more schooling; it simply means more choices and less learning loss. If implemented, students would have more, shorter breaks placed throughout the semester.
This proposal might be a solution for the summer “brain drain.” Learning loss might have been exacerbated by school shutdowns during the pandemic, but it has always been around. Data suggests that the annual loss of knowledge accumulates every summer and results in the loss of 18 months of learning.
“By greatly expanding summer school options, we can much better use our education infrastructure by creating more flexibility for parents in how — and when — their child receives their education,” Adams explained in his education plan on his campaign website.
In addition to the lack of flexibility, city officials often fail to address the imbalance between funding and performance.
According to data from the U.S. Census Bureau, New York City spends more than twice the national average to educate its public-school students, shelling out a whopping $25,199 per pupil during the 2017 fiscal year, compared to just $12,201 nationwide. Despite excessive funding, students are not performing exceptionally higher on tests.
While Adams has not spoken out on the general issue of overfunding, his plan to pay for remote learning provides an innovative solution that places the burden on Big Tech as opposed to regular taxpayers.
“To create the best remote learning experience in the world, we will first place a data sales tax on the big tech companies that sell private data to advertisers and others, and then use the proceeds to connect all New Yorkers at subsidized or no cost,” his plan said.
Additionally, Adams will implement participatory budgeting directly into high schools, giving students the opportunity to design and vote on projects to be funded in their own school buildings, as well as new school policies. Such a program rebuts the one-size-fits-all curriculum that exists across many districts today.
“We have to stop doing things the way we’ve always done them merely because we’ve always done them,” he explained in a January interview.
School safety also remains a top issue in the crime-ridden city. Following the death of George Floyd and the ensuing Black Lives Matter protests, Mayor Bill de Blasio agreed to move control of more than 5,000 school safety agents to the education department from the police department.
The decision was an attempt to placate those protesting police brutality by making school safety agents the scapegoat. Proponents of taking control away from the NYPD also argued that their presence creates a hostile and demoralizing atmosphere inside schools.
Adams has made it clear that he will not allow the already ill-equipped education department to enforce the rules and keep students safe. He has emphasized that school security involves more than breaking up hallway fights and often requires dealing with more serious violence and misconduct issues.
While he refuses to hand safety agents to the DOE, he will implement training for safety agents to improve their conflict resolution skills and change their uniforms.
I watched closely as Adams proclaimed himself the “face of the new Democratic Party.” He secured the nomination for New York City’s mayoral race, one of the most coveted positions in the political landscape. In a time when New York’s elected officials are primarily composed of far-left progressives and socialists, Adams won the nomination with an entirely different message.
With the city’s voting base as blue as it’s ever been, it’s unlikely we’ll see a Republican mayor in November. Adams, however, appears to be a sign of hope that people have started to realize how liberal policies either fail to yield results or end up damaging the city.
Adams’ term as mayor could bring more order to schools and finally make public education worth the absurd amount of money the government pours into it.
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