In just three weeks, students will be returning to the public schools in New York City to begin the fall semester. As we’ve discussed here previously, many of the schools are noticeably under-enrolled, with many parents pulling their children from the system and either putting them into private schools or choosing to homeschool instead. Other families have simply moved out of the city in search of safer conditions. But now Mayor Eric Adams has announced that a plan will be rolled out this week that will fill up many of those empty seats. The city plans to start enrolling the children of illegal immigrants and putting them into the classrooms. How he plans to pull this off on such short notice was not explained, but many parents are already asking questions and pointing out that the taxpayers will once again have to shoulder the burden for this decision. (NY Post)
City Hall is putting together a “formal plan” to help migrant children transition to Big Apple public schools when they reopen in a few weeks, Mayor Eric Adams said Monday.
Adams said officials are working to ensure that school-aged asylum seekers enrolling in the system have a “smooth transition.”
“They are going to roll out a formal plan to let everyone know exactly what we will be doing,” the mayor said at an unrelated press conference in the Bronx.
You’ll notice that the Mayor’s office is choosing to use the term “asylum seekers” when describing these children because it has apparently been deemed more palatable to the public than “illegal migrants.” It’s also almost certainly not accurate for many of the children in question. We know this because the Border Patrol has repeatedly reported that many migrant families were rushed through the catch and release program at the border without ever filling out any paperwork to being the application process. Many of them weren’t even given a date to show up in immigration court. They were simply released.
Even if we ignore all of this, this plan is highly problematic for the schools and even the teachers’ unions are raising objections. Identifying and enrolling all of those children is going to take time and it’s simply not possible that they could all be processed in three weeks. Also, even if they could get them all enrolled, the vast majority of those kids do not speak English, so bilingual teachers will be needed and there aren’t as many of them as you might think.
To be clear, there are certainly some benefits to doing this if it can be managed. Processing migrant children in a way that ensures they will eventually be able to speak English and meet the baseline requirements to land some sort of job upon graduation is far preferable to taking older teens and just dumping them onto the streets where they may be tempted to take up with the gangs to survive. And few if any of the younger children made the trip over the border on their own. They were brought here, so it’s not really their fault that they are living here as illegals.
But Adams himself has already admitted that the city’s shelter system is entirely overwhelmed at this point. Having a seat in a classroom is nice, but it’s also likely an unsustainable situation if they don’t have a bed to sleep in at night. This is a much bigger problem than simply a question of enrolling kids in New York’s public schools. And one feel-good announcement from the Mayor isn’t going to make it go away.