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Expelling Asian Americans from top schools proves NYC education is off the rails

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Expelling Asian Americans from top schools proves NYC education is off the rails

Anti-Asian violence in New York right now is more than random street-corner sucker punches and terrifying subway shoves. It’s also the deliberate disassembly of meritocratic public education under the guise of ethnic equity — a dagger to the heart of the fastest growing and arguably most dynamic immigrant group in the city.

Not to diminish the thuggery, the most serious threat to Asian-American New Yorkers is the Department of Education’s ill-disguised effort to eliminate merit-test-based admission to the city’s eight highly selective high schools. The process is dominated by Asian kids to the virtual exclusion of black and Hispanic students.

The new numbers came out last week, and they are beyond harsh: Asians won 54 percent of this year’s freshman class seats; whites, 28 percent; Hispanics, 5 percent and African-Americans, 4 percent.

Whereupon Schools Chancellor Meisha Ross Porter demanded an end to test-based admissions — because “It’s far past time for our students to be fairly represented.”

Weird. By her own words, Porter doesn’t consider Asian kids — apparently all 145,000 of them — to be among “our students.” And to her, “fair representation” means quotas. How else to interpret what she said?

She’s no trailblazer here, of course. New York, city and state, has been chipping away at school-performance standards for a generation. Lately, in the Bill de Blasio/Andrew Cuomo/Carl Heastie era, they have been in free fall.

But only rarely is the official agenda so clearly — if perhaps inadvertently — stated: Explicitly expelling Asian kids from the “our students” mix is both breathtaking and a fair measure of how far off the rails public-education policy is in New York these days.

If the pandemic has produced anything positive, it is now beyond argument that teachers as an organized force have no interest in actually teaching; hell, they’re no longer even going through the motions.

Neither is Porter, obviously, nor de Blasio, Cuomo, the state and city education departments, the City Council, the Legislature and the state Board of Regents — the last once being America’s most demanding monitor of quality public schools.

The rationale was simple: A solid basic education was intrinsically a good thing, but transforming the nation’s immigrant legions into an educated workforce would promote prosperity, too. 

That worked for decades — but over time the assumption frayed. Now the game is Porter’s quota culture — and those running it admit to no distinction between pretending to educate children and actually doing so.

And they hope nobody notices; so far, nobody has.

Yet those high-school-admissions numbers are hard to miss — and it’s a safe bet that the city’s Asian Americans are staring at them intently.

Certainly the city itself is changing. Where things will stand when the pandemic shakes out is anybody’s guess. Plus those 2020 Census Bureau numbers released last month bear close study.

But no one will dispute that immigration once again is radically transforming the five boroughs. To the point, Brooklyn’s Sunset Park and Flushing/Elmhurst in Queens have been transformed by Chinese newcomers — most poor but tirelessly striving and virtually all dedicated to advancement through high-quality, merit-driven education.

Hard work and familial support make for exemplary test scores — so it is no accident that immigrant children make up a significant percentage of those Porter and her quota cabal would turn away from the city’s specialized high schools.

And while neighborhoods like Park Slope and the Upper West Side get most of the attention when the elimination of programs for talented kids is being discussed, don’t think for a minute that extra effort for high-performing outer-borough Asian children isn’t on the target list too.

Still, Park Slope and Upper West Side residents often have options not available to impoverished, often illegal immigrants from, say, mainland China’s Fujian Province. The question is how hard they’ll push back against Porter’s blatant discrimination.

It wouldn’t be the first time that a demand for quality public schools created social and political friction in the city — that is to say, generated the sometimes-disruptive energy necessary for positive change.

Porter would do better to concentrate on the reasons underlying black under-performance — they are many, varied and often heartbreaking — than trying to mask those problems with quotas.

They won’t help black kids learn, after all, and isn’t that supposed to be the point?

Twitter: @rlmac2

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Opinion

Expert rates the winners and losers of first televised NYC mayoral debate

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Expert rates the winners and losers of first televised NYC mayoral debate

Last night’s mayoral debate was, if nothing else, a good forum for some of​ ​the candidates who many voters haven’t had much chance to get to know.

That​ ​meant it was particularly good for Kathryn Garcia and Ray McGuire who were​ ​able to get across the who, what, where and how of where exactly they stand.

Maya Wiley, wasn’t at her finest. As a TV veteran, she should have known​ ​better and instead broke all the rules by acting as though the rules didn’t apply to her. She ran over her time, wouldn’t stop talking when the moderator asked her to, and interrupted other speakers and overall showed a breathtaking lack of respect for the process.

Scott S​​tringer? He was classic Scott Stringer, the guy who always seems to​ ​need a carton of Red Bull and who, aside from a couple of good lines, was as​ ​unemotional as your tax attorney. That’s great for the city’s fiscal watchdog, but I​ ​just don’t think this comes across well when the public is looking for a strong​ ​presence.

And there was Andrew Yang once again trying the election trick that​ ​knocked him out of the presidential race: The offer of a thousand bucks to​ ​everyone who believes that Andrew Yang will give them a thousand bucks. 

Again.​ ​Been there, done that. 

He was particularly weak in answering to the fact that he’s never even voted for a mayoral candidate or a citywide referendum.

Eric Adams owned, as expected, the public safety issue. His lack of energy​ ​however was somewhat surprising for the candidate who knows the streets, the​ ​racial situation and the problems with the police so well.​ ​

The couple of exchanges he with Wiley and Dianne Morales were too polite,​ ​too softball, when he should have given as good as he got.​ ​

And speaking of Morales, she definitely has some important ideas on racial​ ​inequality and homelessness, but I’m not convinced that she came close to​ ​explaining how we’re supposed to pay for it with a city heading to an estimated​ ​$3 billion budget deficit in 2022-23.

Shaun Donovan, who seemed to start every sentence with “When I was in​ ​the Obama administration…” or “When I was City Housing Commissioner,” was​ ​unnecessarily repetitive. OK, we got the idea, but repetition doesn’t make for an​ ​interesting or even informative debate tactic.​ 

​Bottom line? As in most first debates, nothing much will have changed. No​ ​moments that blew anyone away. Probably the undecided needles won’t move too much.

Next time? Fire the media trainers and be yourselves, because what we saw sure won’t be what we get.

Sid Davidoff is Founding Partner of Davidoff Hutcher & Citron LLP, a New York-based law and public affairs firm, and former aide to New York Mayor John Lindsay.

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Opinion

Saturday’s Times Square shooting may mark a crossroads for NYC

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Saturday’s Times Square shooting may mark a crossroads for NYC

Last year in New York City, murders rose 45 percent and shootings 97 percent, numbers that have continued to rise in 2021. But New Yorkers don’t need statistics to understand that the city’s descent into chaos is accelerating. Saturday’s brazen shooting in Times Square — in which three innocent bystanders were shot, including a 4-year-old girl — may well mark a crossroads.

During New York’s bad old days, the Crossroads of the World and its pornographic theaters attracted “an unsavory and increasingly criminal crowd,” as William J. Stern, former head of the Urban Development Corporation, observed. “By the eighties, things got worse still, with an amazing 2,300 crimes on the block in 1984 alone, 20 percent of them serious felonies such as murder or rape,” he noted. Times Square’s situation suggested a city spinning out of control.

The condition of Times Square today similarly reveals the city’s social, moral and civic health. The president of the Times Square Alliance, Tim Tompkins, understands this. In 2016, he explained that “the area then — and has always been — representative of what was working or not working in New York City as a whole. . . . Throughout New York City, crime was a huge issue that was making people stay away, and . . . that overshadowed everything else.” Thus, he reasoned, “Times Square was this symbol of whether the government had either the will or the capacity to make a city safe.”

Mayor Rudy Giuliani’s commitment to tame Times Square helped Gotham restore civic normalcy. Giuliani brought Disney in to take over and renovate the New Amsterdam Theatre, which “led to the resurrection of 42nd Street and Times Square,” in the words of The New York Times.

Giuliani also targeted smut shops for legal assault in court and had his NYPD proactively arrest quality-of-life offenders: drug dealers, junkies, pimps, prostitutes, hustlers, thieves and con artists. What followed was the revitalization of Times Square — and New York’s rebirth as the safest big city in America.

New York’s reversal of fortune is no accident. Mayor Bill de Blasio cites the pandemic and closed schools as excuses for the rise in violent crime. He conveniently overlooks four culprits: catch-and-release bail reform; the abandoning of broken-windows policing; the elimination of plainclothes anti-crime units that spent their nights hunting illegal gun carriers; and the movement to “defund” the police.

Proactive police officers have no incentive to respond to non-emergency crimes when the mayor has told them to stand down, when they know perps will be swiftly released and when they worry their faces could be the next ones plastered on screens across the country if an arrest goes wrong.

Which brings us back to Saturday’s shooting. We should be grateful for the heroic police officers who responded, including Alyssa Vogel, who ran nonstop with the 4-year-old victim to the ambulance. The alleged shooter was identified as Farrakhan Muhammad, a 31-year-old CD-pushing pest with a long arrest record who intended to shoot his brother.

When New York City had a quality-of-life policing regime, CD peddlers who crossed the line from protected First Amendment activity to misdemeanor “aggravated harassment” were routinely arrested and removed from Times Square and possibly locked away. But we live in a different city now.

In 1975, the Council for Public Safety issued an infamous pamphlet titled: “Welcome to Fear City: A Survival Guide for Visitors to the City of New York.” It advised tourists, among other things, to stay off the streets after 6 p.m., protect their property and safeguard their handbags and “never ride the subway for any reason whatsoever.”

The city is still better off than in 1975 — but that’s far from the standard to which a great city should aspire. De Blasio has assured New Yorkers that “we’re not going back to the bad old days when there was so much violence in this city.” Three innocents shot in Times Square over the weekend might have a different view.

Craig Trainor is a criminal-defense and civil-rights attorney in New York. Adapted from City Journal.

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Opinion

President Biden’s charter-school dis

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President Biden’s charter-school dis

In a fresh sign of teacher-union sway over President Joe Biden, this is the first Charter School Week in 30 years not to be marked by a presidential proclamation.

That’s right: Every president going back to Bill Clinton saw fit to recognize these alternative public schools and the work they do in uplifting poor and minority students across the nation. And Biden’s old boss, President Barack Obama, was instrumental in supporting the growth of charters, even shooting down bogus teacher-union attacks.

Charters are laboratories of innovation that operate largely without union interference; their successes regularly show up the failure of union-dominated schools, especially in high-poverty minority neighborhoods. That’s why teachers’ unions despise them. But what’s Biden’s excuse?

Well, American Federation of Teachers leader Randi Weingarten and National Education Association head Becky Pringle were among the Biden administration’s first and most frequent White House guests. And pressure from the top is the only explanation for how Weingarten was able to literally dictate language to the Centers for Disease Control for its “scientific” guidance on school reopenings.

In short, this president stands with his teacher-union allies against the principles of Barack Obama, the best interests of children and even good public-health policy amid the pandemic.

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