Michael Duncan says Black families like his are having to educate children in the city’s private schools.
Parents in Queens, New York are loudly speaking out against the city’s Department of Education, alleging it has failed their children through mismanagement and neglect.
In an exclusive report in The New York Post, families from District 29 — which includes the predominantly-Black neighborhoods of Hollis, Rosedale and Cambria Heights — note that its youngsters have long had low math and English proficiency rates under the city’s watch, despite high per-student spending.
The low scores have fueled an exodus out of its public school system.
Michael Duncan, a community activist who is part of a group that formed the new Student Improvement Association, told The Post Black families like his are experiencing undue expense by having to put their children in private schools.
“There are a lot of black middle-class homeowners here,” said Duncan. “These are successful people, successful families. The results in our schools are not reflective of the community. Something is wrong here.”
His group has been collecting and analyzing data from the district to promote awareness of student scores with local parents.
The Post report notes that PS 34, an elementary in Hollis, spends approximately $27,000 per student. A mere 6% of its fifth-graders passed their 2019 math proficiency test, and only 17% passed the proficiency in English. At two other elementary schools in District 29, less than a quarter of fifth-graders passed the proficiency exams.
Overall, just 37% of Black students in the district in grades three through eight are proficient in English, and only 28% are proficient in math.
Duncan says that the Department of Education has insisted the low scores are the result of schools being “under-resourced.” He asserts that private schools charge less than the annual funding per student of the public schools, yet perform at a far higher rate.
In response, the Department of Education told The Post that they are engaging with parents in the district.
Community leaders are demanding institutional change, starting with top leadership and the campus’ principals, at least two of whom have been embroiled in scandals. The department says it is working with area parents to strengthen progress.
DOE spokesperson Sarah Casasnovas told The Post, “All students deserve a rigorous education that sets them up for success in school and life, and we have met with parent leaders in District 29 to hear their feedback and discuss their priorities.”
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