City schools’ biggest mistake is its cookie-cutter approach

Mayor de Blasio once promised to “shake the foundations of New York City education” and bring real change to failing schools.

That was in 2014. Three years later, the foundations remain unshaken and, in fact, the main question is where all the money went that was poured into his plan.

As reported in these pages last week, the city is spending $186.5 million a year on Renewal schools, or about $14,632 a pupil. Meanwhile, enrollment at these schools has plummeted 25 percent since the program began in 2013 and only three of the 72 schools met their achievement goals last year.

This is an abject failure. Instead of throwing good money after bad, schools need the freedom to experiment and tailor their curricula to the needs of their students.

PS 118, a relatively new school in Park Slope (it currently only goes to third grade) last year did away completely with homework. Word got out, and the school became one of the most popular in the five boroughs.

What’s particularly unusual about PS 118’s popularity is that it has yet to show any testing results to see whether the experiment is actually working.

State tests begin in third grade, so this will be the first year they are offered at 118. So why are parents lining up to make their kids guinea pigs at the gkfx school before the results are in? Because while test scores matter, they are far from the only metric parents use to assess the value of their children’s education.

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