Monday, January 16, 2012

Blomberg Refuses to Leave Quietly

As we celebrate the life of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., we note that last week, Mayor Bloomberg announced bold new education plans focused on terminating teachers deemed unsuccessful and rewarding teachers deemed successful with cash bonuses.

Bloomberg's Education Debacle

Mayor Bloomberg is the only Mayor to ever have full control of the NYC school system, and he has had that control for 10 uninterrupted years.

After 10 years, no one would argue that Mayor Bloomberg has created a successful educational system in New York City. In our city, only 28% of Black males graduate high school, and New York City has one of the lowest graduation rate for Black males of any city in the United States. Ten years of Mayor Bloomberg has given our city one of the worst performance in the country.

In defense of Bloomberg, he is in good company. New York State has the absolute worst rate of high school graduation for Black males in our country (25%). No state is worse than New York State at providing a path to a high school diploma for a Black male. Bloomberg is part of the problem, but his 28% graduation rate is actually HIGHER than the state average of 25%. NYC 's performance and NYS' performance seem criminal. Three-quarters of our Black males exit their teen years without the basic building blocks of education, making their success in life highly unlikely. Across the country, approximately 50% of Black males graduate high school, nearly double the NYC performance. With ten years to work on this challenge, Bloomberg has failed miserably.

His performance with students of all races (and of both genders) is equally troubling. Only 23% of NYC students graduate high school prepared for college. Three quarters of all NYC students leave high school unprepared for college. Criminal. . . Criminal. Once again, in Mayor Bloomberg's defense, as horrifying as his performance has been, other cities in our state have performed even worse.

Though Bloomberg's ten years have been a disaster in NYC public education, he is in good company.

Latest Bloomberg Maneuver

Last week, Mayor Bloomberg unveiled a new plan for improving education in our city.

He pledged to fire half of the teachers in 33 underperforming schools and to provide $20,000 cash payments to teachers who excel. The teachers' union has complained about this Bloomberg approach as well as about the teacher-bashing that Bloomberg engaged in as part of this latest speech.

The teachers' union had prominent supporters in criticizing the Mayor. Public Advocate Bill de Blasio, City Comptroller John Liu, and Manhattan Borough President Scott Stringer all had harsh words for the Mayor's approach. Stringer was unequivocal:
Listen, everyone wants education reform...but this lone ranger approach to education is simply not going to work. What troubled me today is the fact that he's willing to do the lone ranger approach again, not having real discussions with teachers and parents, not bringing people around a table and really negotiating.

You can't negotiate labor issues in public, and every time he does that, nothing happens for the kids, and that's unacceptable.
We all agree that the Mayor's approach is unacceptable, and we all agree that his performance has been unacceptable. Is there any hope that he will improve his performance as he makes his way through two lame duck years?

Perhaps, on MLK Day, we can find some optimism and simply say, "Keep Hope Alive!"

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