Mayor Bill de Blasio looked to the heavens Thursday when asked about a Queens mom who said she was told by teachers at a low-performing school to yank her smart son when she asked how to improve the student’s education.
“I’m hoping and praying and believing that no New York City public school official would ever say that to a parent,” de Blasio said during his daily press conference about the public school teachers’ eyebrow-raising advice.
“They would say, ‘How can we fix the situation for you here, let’s work together to do it, that’s the right way to do it,’ and that’s what we expect of our educators.”
The Post reported Wednesday that Keisha Ellis, a mother of a student at PS147 in Cambria Heights, said she was told by teachers to get her kid to a better school when she asked school staff about how best to improve the 11-year-old boy’s performance. About 70 percent of students at the Queens school can’t pass the state’s basic English exam, and the mother worried her son wouldn’t be able to become a lawyer if he remained in the school.
“They didn’t say they would work with him or try to address it, they just said we should leave,” Ellis told The Post.
“They told me that he is a good student, a smart student,” she added. “But they said the school is not a competitive place and that he was just going to fall behind with the rest of his class.”
On Thursday, de Blasio pleaded ignorance about the situation, but empathized with Ellis.
“I don’t know exactly what those staff said to her, I feel for her if the education that her child got in our schools wasn’t what she wanted or needed. I feel for her as a parent, and that means more work needs to be done,” he said.
“I have seen so many schools improve markedly and quickly and I’ve seen the overall school system improved greatly in recent years, so I know it can be done.”
Patents in the predominantly black District 29 have aired their frustration about what they say is the Department of Education’s mishandling of the schools in the area that has led to low math and literacy scores.
“There are a lot of black, middle-class homeowners here,” said activist Michael Duncan of Hollis, Rosedale and Cambria Heights.
“These are successful people, successful families. The results in our schools are not reflective of the community. Something is wrong here.”
Asked Thursday what City Hall will do to improve the beleaguered district, de Blasio said, “constant work.”
“Look, before the pandemic, what we saw was the positive impact of investments in pre-K and 3K and now 3K will be in every district in September and then universal in the few years for every single child. We saw the impact of having AP for all, including in schools in many districts that have never had advanced placement courses at all.
“We saw constant progress. You saw it in graduation rates, we had the highest graduation rates in New York City history, you saw it in improved test scores, improved college readiness,” the mayor added.
“But it’s ongoing work because, for decades, schools — particularly in communities of color — were not invested in properly and didn’t have clear direction or support and we’re turning that tide rapidly.”