From The Mayor’s Desk ...
From the outset, our Administra-tion has focused on the fundamentals in education. Take reading, writing, and math—the foundations of all learning. Earlier this month, students achieved the highest test scores ever on citywide math and reading tests. We also saw the largest one-year gains ever in the percentage of students working at or above grade level. So when students pick up their final report cards this Tuesday, record numbers of them will be moving on to the next grade well-prepared to keep on learning.
Safety in the schools is fundamental, too. Students can’t learn in a violent atmosphere, or even begin to realize their potential if they’re afraid to come to school in the first place. That’s why 18 months ago, our Administration launched a major school safety initiative. The heart of it has been an intensive focus on the small number of schools where a culture of disorder was ruining educational opportunities for everyone. We dramatically increased the number of police officers and school safety agents assigned to these “Impact” schools. We strictly enforced the Department of Education’s Discipline Code, and removed the most chronically disruptive students. And we worked with school principals, teachers, and staff to improve security procedures and policies.
Our strategy is working—and school safety statistics prove it. First, take the original 16 “Impact” schools that we identified in 2004. Through June 19th, we’ve reduced total crime in those schools 39% this school year compared with last, and we’ve driven down violent crime by nearly half. The same pattern holds for the six schools we added to the Impact program in January of this year. We’ve reduced total crimes per day in those schools 39% since January compared to the fall, and we’ve cut violent crime by 52%.
There’s a third category of schools worth looking at. They’re the five schools that had succeeded in reducing disorder so dramatically by January of this year that we decided to take them off the Impact list then. At the time, some people were afraid that crime might go up in these schools again. But that hasn’t happened. The crime numbers for those schools continue to be as good as or better than those of the rest of the Impact schools. And that shows that ensuring student safety isn’t just about a beefed-up police presence in the hallways; it’s also about good school management and strong principals.
Now we’re phasing six more high schools out of the Impact program, because of the success that they’ve had, too. We’ll continue to monitor them, and also keep an eye on safety issues in other schools throughout the city. Because safety, just like reading, writing, and math, is basic to education—and we’re going to keep building on the strong progress we’ve made in all these areas.