September 6, 2017: FIRST DAY OF SCHOOL ISSUES

It’s a night filled with anxiety for both students and their parents as school starts tomorrow.  We’ll address the issues you, your child, and even our officials will be tackling this year.

TRANSCRIPT

> GOOD EVENING.

WELCOME TO 'METROFOCUS.'

STARTING TOMORROW, 1.1 MILLION KIDS ACROSS THE NEW YORK CITY PUBLIC SCHOOL SYSTEM WILL PACK THEIR BACK BAGS AND HEAD OFF TO BEGIN ANOTHER SCHOOL YEAR.

IT CAN BE A STRESSFUL TIME FOR STUDENTS AND PARENTS ALIKE.

THIS SCHOOL YEAR COMES IN THE MIDDLE OF A MAYORAL ELECTION.

MAYOR BILL De BLASIO IS UNDER PRESSURE TO SHOW HOW HE IS IMPROVING THE LOWEST PERFORMING SCHOOL.

JOINING ME IS NEW YORK TIMES METRO REPORTER KATE TAYLOR.

WELCOME TO THE PROGRAM.

THANKS SO MUCH FOR HAVING ME.

WHERE DOES THE MAYOR'S EFFORTS STAND GOING INTO THIS NEW SCHOOL YEAR?

ONE OF THE THINGS THAT EDUCATION REPORTERS AND PEOPLE WHO CLOSELY FOLLOW SCHOOLS HAVE BEEN LOOKING CLOSELY AT IS WHAT'S KNOWN AS THE RENEWAL PROGRAM WHICH IS MAYOR De BLASIO'S EFFORT TO TURN AROUND THE CITY'S LOWEST PERFORMING SCHOOL.

THESE ARE SCHOOLS IN HIGH POVERTY NEIGHBORHOODS WITH A LOT OF STUDENTS THAT HAVE BEEN STRUGGLING FOR YEARS WITH TEST SCORES, GRADUATION RATES AND OTHER DATA POINTS.

THIS IS ONE OF HIS EFFORTS.

THE CITY HAS SPENT NEARLY $600 MILLION ON THIS PROGRAM TO TRYING TO EXTEND THE SCHOOL DAY, GIVE TEACHERS EXTRA TRAINING, BRING SOCIAL SERVICES INTO THE SCHOOLS IN HOPES IT WOULD TURN THE SCHOOLS AROUND.

WE HAVE BEEN LOOKING CLOSELY AT THIS.

IT'S HARD TO TELL WHETHER THIS PROGRAM HAS WORKED.

WE JUST HAD NEW TEST SCORES COME OUT RECENTLY.

SOME OF THE SCHOOLS HAVE IMPROVED OVER THE LAST THREE YEARS THAT THEY HAVE GOTTEN THIS HELP.

SOME OF THEM HAVE STAGNATED AND IN SOME CASES DETERIORATED ON DATA LIKE TEST SCORES AND GRADUATION RATES.

THIS IS A MULTI-LAYER THING.

A LOT OF FUNDING IS RELYING ON STATE AND FEDERAL FUNDING.

ISN'T THAT A BIT OF COMPARING APPLES TO ORANGES ON THE MAYOR'S PART.

THE TESTS HAVE CHANGED BETWEEN THIS YEAR AND LAST YEAR.

IT REALLY IS LIKE APPLES AND ORANGES.

THAT'S ONE OF THE THING THAT'S IRONIC ABOUT HIS REACTION.

HE HELD THIS PRESS CONFERENCE WHERE HE TALKED ABOUT BOTH THAT SOME OF THESE SCHOOLS IN THE RENEWAL PROGRAM HAD IMPROVED TEST SCORES AND OVERALL THE CITY SEEN TEST SCORES IMPROVE EVERY YEAR THE LAST FOUR YEARS WHILE HE'S BEEN MAYOR.

IN FACT, AS YOU SAID, THE TESTS HAVE CHANGED A LOT.

THERE WAS A LOT OF RESISTANCE TO TESTS.

A LOT OF PARENTS OPTING OUT OF THE TESTS.

IN RESPONSE TO STATE GAVE TESTS SHORTER AND GAVE STUDENTS UNLIMITED TIME TO TAKE THEM.

YOU CAN'T COMPARE THE LAST FEW YEARS THE RESULTS ON THE TESTS.

WHAT ARE SOME OF THE THINGS THEY'RE GOING TO TRY FOCUS ON?

I KNOW WITH EDUCATION THERE'S SO MANY DIFFERENT THINGS OF THOUGHT.

THERE'S DIVERSION AND INCLUSION AND PRE-K.

THERE'S ALSO THIS HINGES ON STATE AND FEDERAL FUNDING.

THAT'S WHERE HE'S MADE HIS MAJOR BETS IS PRE-K.

THEY OFFER IT TO ALL 4-YEAR-OLDS.

NOW THEY ARE SAYING THEY WILL EXPAND IT FOR ALL 3-YEAR-OLDS.

THAT DEPENDS ON A LOT OF STATE AND FEDERAL FUNDING.

THIS YEAR THEY ARE JUST EXPANDING IT IN ONE OR TWO DISTRICTS FOR 3-YEAR-OLDS.

THEY ARE PLANNING TO ROLL IT OUT IN THE FUTURE IF THEY GET THAT FUNDING.

THE OTHER THING, AS I SAID, THEY'VE REALLY MADE A BET THAT SOCIAL SERVICES IN SCHOOL.

THEY REFER TO THIS AS COMMUNITY SCHOOLS WHICH MEANS YOU MIGHT HAVE A DENTAL CLINIC, MENTAL HEALTH CLINIC, LEGAL SERVICES FOR PARENTS WHO MIGHT BE STRUGGLING WITH HOUSING.

IN SCHOOLS SO SCHOOLS BECOME A CENTER OF THE COMMUNITY.

A PLACE WHERE FAMILIES CAN COME AND GET HELP AND OBVIOUSLY ONE OF THE THINGS THAT HOLDS HIGH POVERTY SCHOOLS BACK IS FAMILIES ARE DEALING WITH SO MANY CHALLENGES.

HEALTH PROBLEMS, MENTAL HEALTH PROBLEM, FINANCIAL PROBLEMS.

THEY ARE SAYING IF YOU CAN DEAL WITH SOME OF THOSE THINGS IN SCHOOLS, THE STUDENTS WILL DO A LOT BETTER.

THAT'S SOMETHING THAT TAKES A LONG TIME TO TAKE EFFECT.

TO SHOW TEST SCORES AND GRADUATION RATES IF IT DOES AT ALL.

THAT'S WHY IT'S BEEN HARD TO SEE WITH THE RENEWAL PROGRAM WHETHER IT'S MADE A DIFFERENCE.

WE CAN'T TALK ABOUT EDUCATION IN THE CITY WITHOUT TALKING ABOUT CHARTER SCHOOLS.

I UNDERSTAND IT'S BEEN LISTED.

WHERE DOES THAT LEAVE MAYOR De BL BLASIO?

THE MAYOR HAS SINCE HIS EARLIER TIME BEFORE HE WAS MAYOR AS A POLITICIAN AND THEN RUNNING FOR ELECTION AS MAYOR IN 2013, HE'S BAN EEN A CRITIC OF CHARTE SCHOOLS.

HE'S CLOSELY ALIGNED WITH TEACHER ESS UNION WHO OPPOSES CHARTER SCHOOLS.

ONE OF THE CENTRAL BATTLES HAS BEEN OVER STATE IN SCHOOLS.

CHARTER SCHOOLS WANT TO EXPAND.

NEW CHARTER SCHOOLS WANT TO OPEN.

THEY REALLY WANT SPACE IN PUBLIC SCHOOL BUILDINGS.

THIS IS CALLCO-LOCATION.

IT'S WHEN YOU ALLOW A CHARTER SCHOOL TO OPEN IN A PUBLIC SCHOOL BUILDING THAT HAS CLOSED.

THEY ARE HOLDING RALLIES AT CITY HALL TO DEMAND THE MAYOR GIVE THEM SPACE.

THEY SAID THE MAYOR MISSED THE DEADLINE.

BE MAYOR HAS HAD TO BECOME ACCOMMODATING BECAUSE OF THE POLITICAL DYNAMICS AND THE STATES.

THE GOVERNOR IS A PROPOENENT FO CHARTER SCHOOLS.

THE STATE GOVERNMENT IN ALBANY HAS CONTROL OVER THE MANAGEMENT STRUCTURE OF NEW YORK CITY SCHOOLS.

TO GET MAYORAL CONTROL OF SCHOOLS RENEWED THE MAYOR HAS HAD TO GO TO ALBANY TO GET THE STATE LEGISLATURE TO PASS THIS.

THE SENATE REPUBLICANS HAVE MADE THIS DIFFICULT FOR HIM.

ONE OF THE STICKING POINTS THEY HAVE RAISED IS CHARTER SCHOOLS AND WANTING THE MAYOR TO BE MORE ACCOMMODATING TO CHARTER SCHOOLS.

THIS IS WHEN WE WENT TO GET MAYORAL CONTROL HE MADE A SIDE DEAL WITH THE REPUBLICANS IN THE SENATE WHERE HE SAID I'M GOING TO MAKE THINGS EASIER FOR CHARTER SCHOOLS IN THE CITY.

I'M GOING TO BE MORE ACCOMMODATING OF THEIR REQUEST FOR SPACE AND OTHER ISSUES.

WE'LL SEE HOW THAT PLAYS OUT.

LISTEN.

THERE'S SO MUCH THAT WE HAVE COVERED HERE.

EVERYTHING FROM THE MAKE UP OF THE STATE SENATE TO WHAT WE'LL SEE WHAT COMES OUT OF MAYORAL DEBATE.

THANK YOU FOR JOINING US FOR THE SHOW.

THANK YOU FOR HAVING ME.

THANK YOU.

Funders

MetroFocus is made possible by James and Merryl Tisch, Sue and Edgar Wachenheim III, the Sylvia A. and Simon B. Poyta Programming Endowment to Fight Anti-Semitism, Bernard and Irene Schwartz, Rosalind P. Walter, Barbara Hope Zuckerberg, Jody and John Arnhold, the Cheryl and Philip Milstein Family, Janet Prindle Seidler, Judy and Josh Weston and the Dr. Robert C. and Tina Sohn Foundation.

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