Sunday, December 15, 2013
Will Michael Bloomberg Be Known As The "Education Mayor"? The Answer Is No!
There is little doubt that as Mayor, Michael Bloomberg has remade the City of New York into his own image. However, the billionaire Mayor, being part of the 1% has made his accomplishments a "tale of two cities". The one with power and money, where every billionaire should live (according to the Mayor) and the other 99% struggling paycheck to paycheck and a rise in poverty. While, the Mayor's legacy is a "mixed bag", his ambition to be known as the "education mayor" is a failure. Let's go over the major reasons why Michael Bloomberg will never be known as the "education mayor".
Quality Teachers: Everybody agrees that the most important factor for student learning in the school is having a "quality teacher" in every classroom. Except for some ed deform organizations such as "Teach For America". A "quality teacher" is defined by No Child Left Behind (NCLB), as:
"Highly qualified teacher" is a teacher that is fully credentialed, has expertise in their subject matter, and is experienced.
However, under Mayor Michael Bloomberg, schools are forced to hire the "cheapest" and not the "best teachers". Therefore, the teachers being hired by the schools are not "quality teachers" as defined by NCLB. Consequently, under Mayor Bloomberg's Administration teacher inequality is an ongoing problem and violates the NCLB requirements.
Students Last: Mayor Bloomberg claims that he puts children first but that's simply rhetoric, in fact, his policies smacks of a "children last" program. He has reduced school budgets by 14% since 2007 while diverting funds to wasteful technology, high priced consultants, and pet projects that had no positive impact on the classroom. An education friendly Mayor would ensure that the schools had adequate resources and talent to improve student outcomes. Mayor Bloomberg did neither. It's either his way or the highway,
Class Size: As Mayor Bloomberg leaves office, the New York City schools suffer from the largest class sizes isince he took office. Worse yet, the CFE won a suit to lower class sizes and received more funds from the State, he diverted the money that was to go to lower class sizes to the DOE to do as they pleased with the money. The result, class size has actually risen rather than fall as Tweed used the money for other uses. New York City has the largest class sizes in the State and thanks to the Mayor, that's not going to change this school year.
ATR Pool: Over 2,000 + teachers are in excess due to closing schools, declining enrollment caused by the Bloomberg Administration's charter schools program, and teachers who survived their 3020-a termination hearings, are without classrooms and are used as "glorified babysitters". With schools suffering from tight budgets, lack of resources, and large class sizes, its unconscionable that the Bloomberg Administration wastes all this talent. Putting the ATRs back into the classroom can solve the three issues identified previously, "quality teachers", students last, and "class size" . All these issues can be addressed within the existing DOE budget by setting up a procedure to give the schools an incentive, along with an enforceable hiring freeze to hire the ATRs, many of them "quality teachers" to the close to 5,000 vacancies that are available for the next school year. However, the Bloomberg Administration rater demonize these teachers and waste $160 million dollars annually than help the students or meet the NCLB requirements for teacher equity.
Student Academic Achievement: The twelve years of the Bloomberg Administration saw three Chancellors that weren't educators and needed a waiver due to their lack of credentials. The result was an increasing disconnect between the" teachers in the trenches" and the non-educators at Tweed. The result was little, if any real student academic improvement and a graduation rate that relied way to much on bogus "credit recovery programs" as well as an administrative pressure in passing students that didn't deserve to graduate. The result was that only 22% of the New York City graduates were "college and career ready" and 50% of them came from the top 10% of the schools. As for the Bloomberg small schools? Their "college readiness rates" were no better than the average large comprehensive school and in many cases worse. Most importantly the Administration's claim that they will reduce the racial/income student achievement gap has failed in their mission and in fact, may actually have widened over the Bloomberg years!
While the Mayor may claim he has improved education, the facts show a much different picture that he tried to reshape the education system to his vision of the world at the expense of the public school students. The education mayor? Not in this world.