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Mike Bloomberg on Education

Mayor of New York City (Independent)


Creationism boggles the mind, two centuries after Darwin

On Faith-Based Science: "It boggles the mind that nearly two centuries after Darwin, and 80 years after John Scopes was put on trial, this country is still debating the validity of evolution."

Today, we are seeing hundreds of years of scientific discovery being challenged by people who simply disregard facts that don't happen to agree with their agendas. Some call it "pseudo-science," others call it "faith-based science," but when you notice where this negligence tends to take place, you might as well call it "political science."

"It's scary in this country, it's probably because of our bad educational system, but the percentage of people that believe in Creationalism is really scary for a country that's going to have to compete in the world where science and medicine require a better understanding."

Source: Quotation cited during 2013 campaign on WikiQuote.org , Apr 1, 2013

Included among celebrity philanthropists who fund schools

Gov. Christie made an appearance on Oprah with Newark Mayor Cory Booker to accept a $100 million gift from Mark Zuckerberg, who started up the wildly successful social network Facebook. Zuckerberg's appearance on Oprah Winfrey was just one of the latest examples of celebrities or wealthy philanthropists jumping on board the education bandwagon. Bill Gates and his wife Melissa, of Microsoft fame, have been contributing to education through their foundation for years. So has NYC Mayor Michael Bloomberg, and even Sam Walton, the owner of Wal-Mart, has established a foundation to give away money.

What is disturbing, however, is the ease with which celebrities and national figures have disparaged public education. What do they know about the issue other than what the read or hear? The last time any of them probably stepped in a classroom was when they attended high school. I don't pretend that there aren't problems in urban schools. But let's leave the education business to the educators.

Source: Teachers Under Attack!, by Mike Spina, p.142-143 , Feb 17, 2011

Pushed for mayoral control of city school system

Bloomberg has the power to make policy decisions concerning his city's schools. The single biggest reason that a mayor should not control a school district is that it would put too much power in the hands of the single chief executive of both the city and its schools. It is a recipe for disaster because the mayor in control will be primarily obligated to govern the city first, and that could come at the expense of the school system.

The perfect example [is that] Bloomberg is anticipating municipal cuts that could amount to a billion dollars [of reduced state aid]. Bloomberg has already warned that a cut of that magnitude would mean that he would have to lay off as many as 15,000 teachers in the city. That figure amounts to the number of teachers that NYC has hired over the past 5 years.

Bloomberg has already called for the power to terminate ineffective teachers first. The NYC teachers' union has strongly condemned Bloomberg's call for the abolition of tenure and his layoff plans.

Source: Teachers Under Attack!, by Mike Spina, p.162-163 , Feb 17, 2011

Liberate 1.1 million students from deadly bureaucracy

By instinct, or inspiration, Mike Bloomberg resolved to do a great deal, and to do it fast, while the public still relished the idea of a new start with a new leader and new hope, before resistance congealed and the entrenched power brokers regrouped.

For starters, he was going to win control of the public schools, liberate 1.1 million students from a deadly bureaucracy and a greedy teachers' union--a goal that had defeated his 3 immediate predecessors. Getting kids through high school at last, with diplomas they deserved because they really learned something, was going to be his enduring contribution to a future America.

Source: Bloomberg: Money, Power, Politics, by Joyce Purnick, p.122 , Sep 28, 2010

All social problems are ameliorated by better education

Education reforms bear on his core conviction that American society is doomed if kids don't learn enough to find a place in an ever more complex economy.

"You show me one social problem that won't be obliterated or ameliorated if people had a better education. I don't think you can," he says. The subject triggers a memory of one of the new movies Bloomberg has watched from opening to closing credits--"Charlie Wilson's War," the 2007 film about a Texas congressman who had covert dealings with Afghanistan. In the last scene, Bloomberg noted, Wilson (played by Tom Hanks) could not persuade his congressional colleagues to appropriate $1 million to rid Afghanistan of the Soviets. "They wouldn't have a million dollars for education. It's a fact. I go to the movies once a year and I fall asleep. I didn't fall asleep this time."

Nothing on Bloomberg's agenda has generated as much attention as education.

Source: Bloomberg: Money, Power, Politics, by J.Purnick, p.209-210 , Sep 28, 2010

Increased school budget from $12B to $20B

NY's school system is on the scale of a small country. It aims to educate 1.1 million students in 1,575 schools. By the end of Bloomberg's 2nd term, the school budget had grown by nearly 2/3, to $20 billion from $12 billion, driven by a 47% increase in teacher salaries (to an average of $72,000 a year) and court-ordered state money from a settled lawsuit. The schools are also much safer and many have been reorganized into smaller units. The number of charter schools has increased as well, from 17 to 78, and more are planned.

As Bloomberg ran for his 3rd term, [others] confidently predict that the city schools--more than 70% black or Hispanic--will be the 1st urban system to match the performance of students as a whole around the state.

Improvement in the schools under Bloomberg is indisputable. Questions turn on the extent of that improvement--what the numbers mean and whether they are really reliable.

Source: Bloomberg: Money, Power, Politics, by Joyce Purnick, p.214 , Sep 28, 2010

Ban the use of cell phones in public schools

As the "Nanny Mayor," he accepted responsibility for revitalizing the public schools, promoted real estate development, calmed race relations, paid attention to the environment and improved even on Giuliani's record in reducing crime.

His stubborn insistence on banning the use of cell phones in public schools mystified and angered New Yorkers, more convinced than ever that the mayor, personally BlackBerry-addicted, was out of touch with day-to-day concerns of parents and students.

Source: Bloomberg: Money, Power, Politics, by J.Purnick, p.203-204 , Sep 28, 2010

Slash bureaucracy; reward principal & teacher excellence

From the beginning, we’ve pursued major education reforms that put ‘children first.’ That commitment has been the engine driving everything we’ve achieved in the past six years: Raising graduation rates by 20%; increasing reading and math scores by double digits; slashing the bureaucracy; funding schools more generously--and more equitably; rewarding principals and teachers for excellence; closing the shameful achievement gap between ethnicities.
Source: 2008 State of the City Address , Jan 17, 2008

End the shameful practice of social promotion

Four years ago, I proposed ending the shameful practice of social promotion for 3rd graders in our city. Not everyone liked that idea, you may remember. But our 3rd graders rose to the challenge--and then, when we expanded the policy to 5th and 7th graders, they rose to the challenge, too. Now I will ask the City’s Panel on Educational Policy to end social promotion next school year in the 8th grade.
Source: 2008 State of the City Address , Jan 17, 2008

No more tinkering at margins: cut bureaucracy; add charters

When I came into office, New York’s school system was failing--badly. And that means we were failing our children. Tinkering at the margins for decades had done nothing. In New York, we needed to get at the source of the problem--the inefficient, ineffective, and unaccountable Board of Education. With support from school leaders and parent leaders, we won control of the system--and that’s when the hard work began.

We ended social promotion; we lengthened the school day to provide extra help for struggling students; we worked to expand the number of charter schools; we cut the bureaucracy and re-directed that money into the classroom; we even raised our teachers’ salaries 43% [and instituted] a new program of merit pay for our principals.

Source: Speech at “Ceasefire! Bridging The Political Divide” meeting , Jun 18, 2007

Replaced school board with direct mayoral control

Bloomberg’s first mayoralty coincided with a major shift of authority over the city’s public school system from the state government to the city government. From 1968 until 2000, New York City’s schools were managed by the Board of Education, which was comprised of seven members. Only two of the seven were appointed by the mayor. In 2000, the local boards and Board of Education were abolished and replaced with a new mayoral agency, the Department of Education.
Source: Wikipedia.org entry, “Michael_Bloomberg” , May 2, 2007

No social promotion; more after-school

Under Bloomberg, test scores have risen and the City has obtained a higher percentage of funding from the state budget. Bloomberg opposes social promotion, and favors after-school and summer-school programs to help schoolchildren catch up, rather than allowing them to advance to the next grade level when they may be unprepared. Despite often tense relations with teachers’ unions, he negotiated an average raise of 15% for teachers in exchange for givebacks and productivity increases.
Source: Wikipedia.org entry, “Michael_Bloomberg” , May 2, 2007

Strengthened cell-phone ban in city schools

Bloomberg has enforced a strengthened cell-phone ban in city schools that had its roots dating to a 1988 school system ban on pagers. The ban is controversial among some parents, who are concerned with their ability to contact their children. Bloomberg’s aides noted that students are distracted in class by cell phones and often use them inappropriately, in some instances sending and receiving text messages, taking photographs, surfing the Internet.
Source: Wikipedia.org entry, “Michael_Bloomberg” , May 2, 2007

Focus on increasing high school graduation rates

As a result of the school reforms New York City has made, more students are graduating from our public schools than at any time in decades. Graduation rates have risen steadily and substantially during the past two years, surpassing every comparison gain in the rest of the state, and setting our students up for success. But we can not be satisfied with this progress, and we will continue working to give every New York City public school student a real chance to graduate and be successful.
Source: Press Release, “City Graduation Rates” , Apr 25, 2007

Debated against eliminating social promotion

Herman Badillo: We had some serious problems with [schools chancellor Rudy] Crew, because I was--and have always been--in favor of eliminating "social promotion" and of having policemen in the schools, because there are two things that are necessary to have an educational system: standards and discipline.

It took us years of pushing him to eliminate "social promotion." He just didn't want to do it. Crew agreed with me and he said, "Well, I'll get around to it." But he never got around to it.

Source: Giuliani: Flawed or Flawless, by D. & G. Strober, p.161 , Jan 16, 2007

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Other big-city mayors on Education: Mike Bloomberg on other issues:

Mike Bloomberg (I,New York City)
Cory Booker (D,Newark,NJ)
Julian Castro (D,San Antonio,TX)
Rahm Emanuel (D,Chicago)
Phil Gordon (D,Phoenix)
Tom Menino (D,Boston)
Michael Nutter (D,Philadelphia)
Annise Parker (D,Houston)
Mike Rawlings (D,Dallas)
Jerry Sanders (R,San Diego)
Antonio Villaraigosa (D,Los Angeles)

Former Mayors:
Rocky Anderson (I,Salt Lake City)
Tom Barrett (D,Milwaukee,WI)
Jerry Brown (D,Oakland,CA)
Rudy Giuliani (R,New York City)
Dennis Kucinch (D,Cleveland,OH)
Sarah Palin (R,Wasilla,AK)
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Page last updated: Mar 16, 2014