Blog

It’s the Hypocrisy, Stupid: NYC School Choice For… Some

We really should be used to it by now.

The hypocrisy, that is.

News broke last week that Cheryl Watson-Harris, whom New York City School Chancellor Richard Carranza promoted to First Deputy Chancellor in July of 2018, had somehow gotten her children into two of Brooklyn’s top screened middle-schools — at least one of whom did it without needing to go through the torturous process required of other families.

That child went to The Christa McAuliffe School (IS 187), a screened school that primarily accepts students in 6th grade. Ms. Watson-Harris’ daughter got an exemption to attend IS 87 rather than her zoned school in 8th grade when her family moved from Massachusetts.

Ms. Watson-Harris’ youngest child is currently enrolled at The Mark Twain School for the Gifted and Talented (IS 239). Mark Twain’s admission process includes a (subjective) talent test or audition. It is a citywide unzoned, screened school.

The exemption granted to Ms. Watson-Harris is similar to the one then-Deputy Mayor Richard Buery got for his son when their family moved to Brooklyn in 2017 and his son was accepted into Park Slope’s top screened middle school without needing to follow the stated protocol.

Ms. Watson-Harris’ direct boss, Richard Carranza, believes that all school screens are immoral and that G&T programs are unnecessary and discriminatory. Now that his daughter has graduated from San Francisco’s top screened institution for gifted students.

Ms. Watson-Harris’ indirect boss, Mayor Bill De Blasio, believes everyone should attend their zoned school, and that all schools should be unscreened in order to encourage diversity. Now that his own children have graduated from District 15’s highest-achieving, whitest middle-school.

The same school attended by Councilman Brad Lander’s children.

Both the mayor and the Councilman wished their children had been placed in a more diverse environment but could not, for the life of them figure out how to make that happen. Having bravely endured the agony of being forced to attend the school both ranked as their first choice rather than the more “diverse” one the placement algorithm should have known they actually preferred, they have now selflessly passed a resolution to unscreen all of District 15’s middle schools, so that no other family need ever again suffer like they’ve suffered.

It’s one thing when celebrities are school-choice hypocrites.

Like Matt Damon, who narrated a documentary excoriating those who opt out of traditional public schools for charters, while sending his own girls to private school because “progressive education no longer exists in the public system” and that’s what he wanted for his daughters.

Or celebrities who decide to raise their Q score by taking working people’s money to launch a quixotic race for governor, like Cynthia Nixon who calls herself a “public school graduate” when she attended Hunter College High School, a publically funded but not public school, and a typical “public school parent” when her older children attended the screened, citywide Center School, which has its own admissions process and is not included on the public middle school application.

It’s even somewhat understandable when parents start petitions to stop charter schools while sending their own kids to unzoned schools. Or those who insist they believe in public education, everyone should go to their zoned school, it’s the only way to ensure diversity and equity for all, don’t you know? Except when it comes to their child, who really needs that Dual Language, progressive, or Gifted & Talented program, they somehow forget to practice what they preach.

But shouldn’t politicians be held to a higher standard?

After having strings pulled for him in middle-school, Richard Buery’s son went to Brooklyn Tech, a SHSAT school. His father is now advocating to change their admissions criteria, writing without a seeming sense of irony,


(F)or others, paid school consultants, tutors and prep courses, some starting as early as kindergarten, give students with means, or those with parents in the know, a leg up (emphasis mine). That includes poor Asian families who spend hundreds of hours and thousands of dollars prepping for the exam.

I guess Buery would know.

Perhaps because, unlike the poor Asian families he throws shade at for scraping up the money to send their children to SHSAT prep (due to most K-8 public education not even coming close to adequacy), Buery did not technically pay for his child to receive a better school placement. He merely knew the right people. Is that why he believes he’s exempt from complicity? And, obviously, he’ll be withdrawing his son from Brooklyn Tech in protest, otherwise he’s just perpetuating a system he disdains?

De Blasio’s children both attended screened middle schools, and a screened and an SHSAT high school. They’re now students at private colleges. (Which is so weird, their dad being a huge public school advocate and all. What does Yale have to offer Dante that CUNY doesn’t, and why did Chiara have to travel all the way to California to attend a religious institution? Is de Blasio saying CUNY isn’t good enough for his kids? Is he saying Yale or Santa Clara University’s  academic level is higher for some reason? Is that because they have more white and Asian students? Be careful, Bill, that kind of language may prompt your own School Chancellor to call you a racist. As Carranza warned your constituents, “If you don’t want me to call you on it, don’t say it.”)

De Blasio, Carranza, Buery, Lander, Watson-Harris, even Nixon and Damon, all benefited from the school system the way it was.

And now they’d like to deprive other families of the same opportunities. For their own good, of course. They’re public servants, after all.

There’s a word for that.

One that our Mayor deserves to hear frequently now that he’s thrown his hat into the presidential ring… and is angling to bring his brand of hypocrisy to the rest of the country.



What do you think?

More Comments