For most New Yorkers, education is a troubling issue. A recent Manhattan Institute poll indicates that forty percent of likely voters in the city think primary and secondary education is one of the top two issues facing the city, and about two-thirds of voters rated schools there as "fair" or "poor."
Are there any clear ways to improve New York City public schools and other school districts across the country? Every reform seems to have its enemy, and for good reason -- there are upsides and downsides to almost every approach.
A recent Atlantic working summit tackled the topic of holistic support for kids, which seems like something everyone wants; the true challenge comes in translating that idea to actual reform. Some reformers advocate schools that do more than educate: They should provide health care, job training for parents, family counseling, and more, these reformers say. But is that asking too much?
Cynthia Nixon, education activist and actress of Sex in the City fame, recently participated in an Atlantic working summit on this topic, and she reflected on this question in an interview. "We expect the school to be the mother, the father, the guidance counselor, the doctor, the nurse, the cook, the police officer. We're asking a lot of our schools, and maybe we're asking too much. But from my point of view, schools are ideally situated to step in and fill in the gaps that kids may not be getting at home, whether it's educationally, or nutritionally, or emotionally."