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By David C. Banks, President and CEO of The Eagle Academy Foundation
[Mayor Bill de Blasio’s] response to schools reopening is simply unacceptable.
Our city’s leaders, including the Mayor and DOE, have shown a clear lack of planning from the very beginning, first delaying school closures as parents and educators called for them to take action in the spring, and now, despite having the information to make this decision for months, suddenly upending their reopening plans and impacting real families who have been preparing for this moment as best as they can. This recent delay points to a systemic failure in leadership.
As a lifelong educator, parent and product of the New York City school system, I have personally heard from dozens of parents, educators and school leaders about the clear disregard our leadership has shown for their needs and opinions. While our city’s school system has never properly engaged our students’ parents in the education of their children, this has become especially apparent throughout this pandemic.
Even our principals, who are charged with leading us through this perilous time, are only finding out how they’re supposed to lead our schools through a global pandemic through what’s reported in the news. The Mayor and his team have made these decisions behind closed doors, without the substantive input of real parents and families who should have had a much more visible hand in this process.
At the end of the day, our kids will be the ones that will pay the price for this lack of leadership. We are in the midst of a pandemic and there are no easy answers, but the Mayor has to roll up his sleeves to support our city’s 1.2 million schoolchildren and their families.
To do that, he has to bring parents, principals and educators into this conversation, and show real regard for those that are on the ground, in our students’ homes and in their classrooms and school buildings. These are the real leaders of our school system, and it is only with a concerted, well-planned effort that we can shape this path forward.