What I Saw in the Schools

Sol Stern, Contributing Editor of City Journal and author, reflects upon the damage the teacher union contract brought upon his own sons and fellow students at one of New York City’s “best” schools.  Check out the story in City Journal.

I started writing about public education because of what I saw, up close and personal, at P.S. 87 on Manhattan’s Upper West Side, the elementary school my children attended from 1987 to 1997. P.S. 87 was then regarded as one of the city’s best schools, and it still is. Yet it was at this elite school, favored by the neighborhood’s middle-class parents, that I first glimpsed the harm done to children—particularly, poor children—by a retrograde teachers’ contract and the dominance of progressive-education ideas in the classroom.

I can still recall the shock I experienced one morning in September 1991 after dropping my boys off at P.S. 87’s schoolyard. I lingered for a few minutes, chatting with some other parents, when I noticed a bent man in dirty, tattered clothes, wandering around the yard as if in a stupor. Wondering if a derelict had gotten into the schoolyard, I asked one of the parents if she recognized him. She responded with an ironic grin: “Don’t you know? That’s Malcolm, one of our new teachers.”ach reading to young children.