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Political Foodie: Letter Grades – Schools ARE Like Restaurants

By Andrew Rigie & Robert Bookman, New York City Hospitality Alliance

October 2, 2014

“Schools are not like restaurants”, said NYC Schools Chancellor Carmen Fariña as she announced that the city would ditch the controversial Bloomberg-Era letter grading system of public schools.

Actually restaurants are a lot more like schools than the Chancellor may want to admit.  Insomuch that letter grades are punitive to restaurants and they often tarnish their reputation unfairly, just like the Chancellor claims they do to schools.

And now that Mayor de Blasio’s administration will eliminate letter grades for the city’s public schools, the NYC Hospitality Alliance urges them to take this opportunity to focus their attention on the restaurant letter grade system.  The mayor should not conclude that he supports the current restaurant letter grade system before conducting a review of the burdens it imposes on the city’s small business owners.

An analysis of the letter grade system and sensible reforms must be implemented swiftly. Recent reforms to the system were a step in the right direction, but many more reforms are needed.

The last thing any restaurateur wants to do is get their customers sick. And just like everyone supports great teachers and wants good public schools, the restaurant industry supports high food safety standards and clean restaurants. Education is the key to achieving and maintaining high standards, misleading letter grades are not.

United Federation of Teachers President Michael Mulgrew applauded changes to the school’s letter grade system and said they would, “support schools, not just beat them up.”

Mr. Mayor, changing the restaurant letter grade system will support restaurants, not just beat them up with fines and scarlet letters.


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