Mr. Nadelstern is a Bronx native and graduate of DeWitt Clinton High School, having worked in New York City public schools for 39 years and rising to the position of Deputy Chancellor for the Division of School Support and Instruction in 2010. Following his retirement from the system last year, he is currently Professor of Practice in Education Leadership at Teachers College, Columbia University.
What are the problems we face in the New York City public school system?
We are spending $23 billion of the public’s hard earned money in New York City every year to support the country’s largest school district, and yet 35 percent of the students are not graduating from high school. The good news is just a few years ago it was half the students, and things had been frozen at that rate for the prior 50 years. Still, 35 percent are not graduating and the 35 percent who aren’t are largely male, African American and Latino. This is significant evidence that despite everything we are doing, we haven’t been able to close the achievement gap in the city.
What I think differentiates New York from some other countries in the world that I have visited or am familiar with is that we recognize there is an achievement gap. This contrasts with Israel which runs five separate and unequal school systems. Their primary concern, as in many other places, is to produce the few outstanding mathematicians and scientists who can compete with other countries, compared to thinking about educating the entire population to their highest potential.