Mayoral candidate Joe Melaragno answers NY Times Metro questions on public education

Javier C. Hernández and the New York Times posed three questions to the Democrat and Republican mayoral candidates in contested primaries. I'm going straight to the general election ballot in November but I wanted to share my thoughts on Public Education with you.

Do you support increasing the number of charter schools in the city?

Yes. Some charter schools have piloted successful techniques for improving student performance, and they can be a valuable community resource. We should be able to take the best strategies used in charter schools and explore adopting them as best practices across the rest of the public school system. However, charter schools are not a panacea and some of them do not improve student outcomes.  We must remain committed to developing a public school system that serves the needs of all New York City students. This means each student should receive a great educational opportunity, regardless of whether they are in a charter school or a traditional public school. 

How would you diversify the exam schools (nine elite high schools that require a competitive exam or audition to enter)?

We must ensure that our exam schools remain elite and serve the purpose of training New York’s next generation of the best and brightest. However, we owe it to our students to give each one of them the opportunity to succeed on the entrance exam. This could mean extra tutoring for low income students, or it could mean changing the entrance criteria to more accurately reflect performance. Most of the applicants have been in city classrooms for many years leading up to the high school admissions process, and their academic performance should not be ignored. Ultimately, we must ensure that each student has a chance to succeed, regardless of which city high school they attend. While these elite schools may be a good fit for certain students, we must also ensure that our traditional neighborhood schools also offer exceptional education and preparation for the workforce as well as college.

How would your approach to testing, school report cards and accountability differ from the approach taken by the Bloomberg administration?

The New York City public education system should provide a dynamic learning environment that enables all children to thrive upon completion of their schooling. An updated curriculum that reflects the challenges our students will face in the real world is paramount to training them for success, and we must have a way of measuring ourselves against the goals we set. The current tests are certainly not perfect and no exam will ever perfectly measure student achievement, but we will continue to work with Albany to develop an assessment that accurately reflects the academic accomplishments of our students and teachers throughout the year. As we continue to set new goals for our schools and our students, we must partner with our teachers to design new approaches and solutions for the next generation.