Mayor de Blasio is moving forward on another promise. He is having the stringent entrance examinations for the city’s elite specialized schools evaluated with the intention of making new ones that will be fairer to African-American and Latino students who are disproportionally underrepresented in schools like Stuyvesant, Bronx High School of Science, Brooklyn Tech and others.
The plan includes having the examinations in multiple languages and based on content more consonant with the Department of Education’s curricula.
The problem with the well-intentioned plan is how do you accomplish it? When you begin with a mindset that supports the idea that a process that selects a population of student applicants on merit must now be more concerned about what kind of person “wins” the contest to enter these schools, you will be unfair to other applicants and you may just get students who want to attend but are not the absolute best and brightest.
It is the wrong idea. What is wrong with testing students who will be offered wonderful educational opportunities in a free New York City public school in English? The mayor should carefully consider all the implications of his plan.
Reports indicate that homicides are down in the city but shootings and other crimes are on the rise. Police in the toughest precincts recorded 99 percent fewer stop and frisks during the first half of the year, a staggering decline from three years ago.
Police officers at the 75th Precinct in East New York and the 73rd Precinct in Brownsville stopped just 126 people in the first half of 2014, compared to 10,540 stops between January and June of 2011, according to reports. This is another de Blasio promise that has been kept by the mayor.
However, shootings in those neighborhoods are on the rise. Shootings are up in East New York from 34 to 43 through August 10, a spike of about 27 percent compared to last year. In Brownsville, shootings are up from 38 to 56, an increase of about 47 percent over the same time period. An anonymous source said that there was a definite link between the increase in shootings and the drop in stops.
One officer opined criminals know they not going to get stopped, so they’re packing guns more. Eliminating wholesale stop and frisk policies, a hallmark of the Bloomberg administration, was one of Mayor de Blasio’s major campaign promises.
The sharp decline in stop and frisks came with an increase in the number of shooting victims, with 822 reported through August 10, 2014 an increase of 86 or 11.7 percent from last year. The murder rate is down from 203 in 2013 to 179 this year, but can we really allow criminals to think that our police officers are not allowed to investigate or protect the public?
The way to go is better leadership and more training, but the police today, for the most part, follow their credo to protect and provide courtesy, professionalism and respect.
Meanwhile we are still looking for the right strategy in the Middle East where ISIS thugs continue to kill innocent non-combatants and civilians. Their atrocities have fueled a spike in hate crimes against Jews and Muslims in New York City according to the NYPD.
The police commissioner announced a 50 percent hike in bias crimes against Jew and Muslims in the city. Bias crimes against Jews jumped from 64 through late summer in 2013 to 89 through the same point this year. Bias crimes against Muslims rose from seven through the same point in 2013 to 17 this year.
Finally, some leaders in the Middle East are responding to the ISIS crimes in Syria and Iraq: Iranian President Hassan Rouhani denounced Islamic State’s beheading of innocent people, saying the militant group’s shameful actions violate Islamic principles, NBC News said in excerpts of an interview released Wednesday.
“From the viewpoint of the Islamic tenets and culture, killing innocent people equals the killing of the whole humanity,” Rouhani told the television network. “And therefore, the killing and beheading of innocent people in fact is a matter of shame for them and it’s the matter of concern and sorrow for all mankind.”
We need leaders to stand up here and abroad to all instances where groups or individuals are targeted for different treatment, prejudice or violence.