Here's How de Blasio's School Safety Data Falls Short
According to Mayor de Blasio, the 2016-17 school year was New York City’s safest on record. If true, parents would breathe a sigh of relief. Alas, there’s less here than meets the eye.
De Blasio’s data doesn’t so much represent progress made by teachers on schoolhouse order as progress made by his administration in manipulating school-safety statistics into meaninglessness.
Two years ago, New York state’s numbers showed school crime went up by 23 percent in 2014-15 compared with the previous year, with assaults with physical injury rising 39 percent.
Then, likely not coincidentally, last year de Blasio’s allies on the Board of Regents watered down the state reporting system, cutting the list of “incident categories” from 20 to nine.
Earlier this year, I released a report showing that according to student answers to the NYC School Survey, violence was becoming more frequent at nearly half of middle and high schools (compared with about 15 percent of schools where matters improved), and drug use and gang activity were increasing at more than three times as many schools as decreasing.
Then Team de Blasio revised the 2016-17 survey to make comparison impossible.
Today, de Blasio was largely silent on student and state data, touting instead official city data that crime was down at schools. And if the data looks too good to be true, that’s because it is. At an event this spring on New York City school safety, Derek Jackson, director of the school safety officers union, said: “Yes, we agree that crime is down. Crime is significantly down.
But we also think that the crimes are not being reported the same.”
For example, Jackson said, “Offenses like disorderly conduct, a violation where in the past students were given a summons or even arrested . . . they’re now given warning cards. There is no criminal recording of that data any longer.”
Or, when it comes to drugs, Jackson said, “If those same children were in possession of marijuana and scales and drug paraphernalia walking around in the street by a New York City police officer, they would be stopped, they would be arrested for that. So, we have children who are bringing marijuana into schools . . . bringing scales into schools, weighing the marijuana to sell it, have it bagged into cellophane packages, and they are being given warning card for that.”
Jackson noted that this system started as a pilot program in The Bronx and expanded this year to all boroughs.
He predicted, “The mayor will then claim that crime is down citywide. But really what he did was take crimes and not call them crimes any longer.”
So, unfortunately, parents shouldn’t feel particularly reassured by de Blasio’s safety statistics.
This piece originally appeared in the New York Post
Max Eden is a senior fellow at the Manhattan Institute and author of the report, School Discipline Reform and Disorder: Evidence from New York City Public Schools, 2012-16. Follow him on Twitter here.
This piece originally appeared in New York Post