Bloomberg: Black Parents Fail Their Kids

With his usual glowing self-assurance, multi-term mayor Michael Bloomberg continually proclaims that his administration will be judged by his performance as our Education Mayor. But here is the people’s judgment in a recent Quinnipiac poll reported by Michael Goodwin (New York Post, June 1): “By a whopping 64 to 25 percent, voters don’t like Bloomy’s management of the schools. Among parents, only 20 percent approve, while 78 percent disapprove.”

This is a largely racially segregated school system in all five boroughs. In certain neighborhoods where Ray Kelly’s stop-and-frisk police are all too familiar, parents would not have been surprised to hear from the Education Mayor himself what he thinks of them on his weekly WOR interview: “Unfortunately, there are some parents who...never had a formal education, and they don’t understand the value of an education. Many of our kids come from [such] families—the old Norman Rockwell family is gone” (New York Times, May 21).

I waited for a stinging response to that old-fashioned racial stereotyping that would have outraged integrationist artist Norman Rockwell. None came from faithful Bloomberg schools chancellor Dennis Walcott or from the lordly panjandrum, Reverend Sharpton. But a considerable number of black parents responded angrily.

Zakiyah Ansari, an organizer for the Alliance for Quality Education, whose members are outside the mayor’s social circle, let him have it: “How dare he, and how disrespectful of him to think we don’t have the brain power—whether we have a PhD or an eighth-grade education—to know what we want for our children?” (Daily News, May 21).

Bloomberg’s icy ignorance reminded me of a New York City Board of Education meeting I covered for the Voice in the early 1960s. After listening to a parade of education experts, a black parent rose from the audience. I learned from him later that he’d been a school dropout in the South and after coming North, following a string of menial jobs, he was earning about $90 a week in a dead-end factory job.

As I wrote in Does Anybody Give a Damn? Nat Hentoff on Education (Knopf, 1977), this father, so focused on his child—who was falling farther back every year in our school system—roared at the members of the Board of Education: “You people operate a goddamn monopoly, like the telephone company. I got no choice where I send my child to school. I can only send her where it’s free. And she’s not learning. When you fail, when everybody fails my child, what happens? Nothing.”

But now, there is choice. Not all charter schools would have satisfied this father and his child, but some do enable kids to learn that they can learn—and want to learn more.

The Education mayor should visit the homes of some of these black and Latino parents in Harlem and East Harlem who are so fiercely intent on getting their kids into certain charter schools. They may or may not have had a formal education, but they sure as hell know the value of an education and they rage at an Education Mayor bragging about a school system where—as they read in newspapers more often in the tabloids: “The city’s graduation rate continues to improve, but a woeful number of students finishing high school are not adequately prepared for college…At City of New York community colleges, 74 percent of students last fall required extra help before starting college-level work” (Daily News, June 14).

You don’t have to be a black or Latino parent to be repelled by a mayor who believes—he said it himself—that low-income parents who never had a formal education don’t understand the lifelong value of an education that enlarges and deepens a child’s whole life.

I don’t know any billionaires, but I doubt that any could match the chutzpah of the one we have at City Hall when we said of the “improved” graduation rates: “No one could have predicted in their wildest dreams that we would be this successful” (New York Times, June 15).

The nightmare for many parents (“Got My Dumb-Ploma,” Daily News, June 15) is that while “the city’s graduation rate rose slightly, only one of five kids in the Class of 2010 was ready for college, state Education Department officials said yesterday.”

Bloomberg never mentions that he presides over a racially segregated school system and that “the racial gap” in achievement is glaringly evident “in the college-ready graduation rate…with just 12 percent of black students graduating ready for the next step compared with 41 percent of white” (emphasis added).

Returning to confront the celebrating mayor is Zakiyah Ansari of the NYC Coalition for Educational Justice: “It’s like watching a bad accident coming in slow motion, but instead of preparing for the accident, the city is turning their eyes” (Daily News, June 15).

Do you dare, Chancellor Walcott, to demand that Bloomberg open his eyes? New York State Chancellor Merryl Tisch does see clearly that this mayor’s control of education will diminish the lives of many of our new generation in his schools: “Today’s data makes clear that we have tremendous work to do to reduce the drop-out rate, close a stubbornly persistent racial gap and ensure that more of our graduates are prepared for college and the work force” (Daily News, June 15). As long as Bloomberg is in charge?

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18 comments
Louisprofeta
Louisprofeta

I loved the waterfalls under the east side bridge at 2 million a pop, I think it was. Plus superman buys his term to boot, maybe 50 mill?

Louisprofeta
Louisprofeta

I do not like Bloomberger(Big Mac) or his judg, ments which are from The Mount.The subway ads him holding the subway overhead bar, conversations are over so soon, he raised the fair, as the butler served cocktails. What a guy of his home office, judging our town!

Marc
Marc

I agree with NYC Mayor Michael Bloomberg! Chicago Public School’s middle class education model doesn’t work for thousands of CPS students. A middle class education model presumes that students have educated parents that are helping their children prepare for college.Most Chicago Public Schools and Charter Schools in the African American community are up against a culture where education is not a top priority. The average African American parent feels it is the responsibility of their children and the public schools to make sure their children do well in school.Do you agree or disagree?marcsimschicago@gmail.com

StopWithTheRaceCard
StopWithTheRaceCard

Really? You're reaching... again. Stop with the knee-jerk reaction of shouting, "racist, racist" when someone didn't even bring up race. I find it racist to accuse people of being racist because they are white and said something that a black person may have erroneously read into the comment that it was directed, and only directed, at black people, when white v. black or anything about race WAS EVEN MENTIONED IN THE COMMENT! Yeah, that builds credibility with your platform. Enough with playing the race card. Look in the mirror and deal with your own problems instead of reaching to paint someone as a racist. Besides, if Bloomberg DID say that Black families have a tendency to fail to understand the value of education, would that be incorrect? I'm not sure it would be correct. That might be over-reaching as well, but please do not tell me that the 12% college-ready graduation rate is white man's fall. Please.

Flashman
Flashman

I've heard that in New York City there was an effort to close 22 failing public schools and replace them with charter schools. These schools were in mostly black or Latino neighborhoods. Is this correct?

And, the local teacher's union was opposed to this (which is not surprising, the charter schools being non-union), but what was surprising was the violent objection to charter schools by the NAACP. This, if true, would suggest that the NAACP is not concerned with the advancement of African Americans, but rather the advancement of God knows what other agenda.

You live, work, and have your ear to the ground in NY so perhaps can address this issue.

Thank you,

all the best.

Troy Williams
Troy Williams

as long as bloombergs successors are kelly and quinn then the cities school children will be screwed, the cities school children racial makeup is 90% of color, they need a mayor who comes from that community.

but al long as the village voice and other local newspapers tout the likes of kelly and quinn and de blasio, and stringer and markowitz and forgets that the vast majority of nyc voters are of color and WILL elect someone of color from these communities then the schools will continue their bad performances.

it is important that someone who represents the cities racial makeup run the city.

and it will. go ahead liberals call me a racist for speaking the obvious.

obama '12

jiefmo
jiefmo

believe you will love it.====(www)( edhardy007 )(com)BEST QUALITY GUARANTEE!!There are many fashion clothes high-heeled shoes

CanadaGoose
CanadaGoose

I really don't see the source of the outrage here. I think it's safe to say that every school district in North America has parents who don't understand the value of education. Darn few of them. But they exist.

If his statement is indeed a dogwhistle for racism, it's pretty thin. And already the story is being spread:NYC Mayor Bloomberg: Black Parents Fail Their Kids (see Tweet below)I didn't see that at all.

Oprah Obama
Oprah Obama

THis just in! Water is wet! and your dog needs to go for a walk

Guest
Guest

As a black man, I don't see what he said as being racist, or off base. Not having parents who value education is a huge problem within our community...that's not to say all black parents don't value education. But to deny that this fact doesn't exist, is borderline criminal.

It just seems like another attempt to paint the black community as one giant monolithic unit sharing one set of values (and a single brain).

Guest
Guest

Unfortunately, there are some parents who...never had a formal education, and they don’t understand the value of an education. Many of our kids come from [such] families—the old Norman Rockwell family is gone”

This is true. Leave out Norman Rockwell, who did favor integration, and YOUR interpretation of what that means. Are you saying there is some subtext here? Aside from the fact that you see this as a dig at "Black" people the fact remains that the parents can do far more to encourage a child than the school systems can.

But even someone without much education can see that your headline is not supported by your story..

Pamela AuCoin
Pamela AuCoin

I didn't think Bloomberg would be this openly racist. Apparently, if the majority of parents (who tend to be of color) don't approve of his school management, it's because they are not educated enough to recognize his leadership as enlightened. His term cannot end soon enough.

Pamela AuCoin
Pamela AuCoin

Wow. Didn`t know Bloomberg would be so openly racist. How dare he proclaim that parents, who don`t approve of the way he manages the schools, are the root of the problem. When does his term end, againÉ

Elizabethfrantes
Elizabethfrantes

It's hardly just black parents. Most "chopper parents" who basically do all the kid's work, demand they get rewarded for nothing, etc are white. But it is the case that PARENTS MAKE THE DIFFERENCE, so giving more money to schools can't work. If we really want to reform education, realize not all kids are above average, and instead of insisting that all kids go to college, let's realize that we don't need or want everyone to be a college grad. Pay more money to those jobs that are "blue collar" and make the perceived need for college go away. And remember Bill Gates is not a grad.

Bill T.
Bill T.

It's all fine to rail against the horrible schools and the worthless teachers, but speaking from personal experience, for each lousy teacher out there, there are many fine hard-working ones and even if you go to a "sub-standard" school (like I did), the responsibility of getting an education is still the individual's and his/her parents'. Most of the pondits out there positting about what the schools and teachers have to do have never spent 5 minutes in a classroom as an adult and have no idea what the teachers are up against.

Ionaalba
Ionaalba

Chicago Public Schools?? Bill Ayers country? What possible good can come from the CPS?

Louisprofeta
Louisprofeta

Say, NEW YORK, this is not Chicago, People her have enough judgment every hour of their work day, crunch compensation take home, call Oprah.

Bill T.
Bill T.

For "pondit", please read "pundit".

 
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