Rudy Giuliani on Education
Former Mayor of New York City; Republican Candidate for 2000 Senate (NY)
A: What we need is choice.
Q: That’s going to bring back public school teachers?
Q: Well, I love teachers. But I really care about the kids more.
The mayor reasoned that he could not legitimately ask for billions of dollars during a fiscal crisis for a system he was accusing of chronic mismanagement. His unprecedented request would have effectively starved an already malnourished school system. More than 5 years later, Giuliani declared the schools to be so hopeless that “the whole system should be blown up.”
Elementary school principals reported eliminating arts, music, and afterschool activities such as foreign language clubs & debate teams. Kindergarten class sizes soared to 25 children with only one teacher. Some high school principals resorted to shortening more & more students’ instructional days to absorb Giuliani’s first-term 20% budget cuts.
Giuliani’s jihad made political hay, attacking Hillary’s support of what he termed obscene and blasphemous museumology: “She agrees with using public funds to bash the Catholic religion,” the mayor said.
Giuliani had employed a direct-mail guru who specialized in creating appeals tailored to religious zealots. He also came out for prayer and the posting of the Ten Commandments in public schools. Yet Giuliani’s crusade got weak support locally. Even Catholics in the city gave the mayor short shrift, by 48% to 42%.
: Established as an all-male, diocesan institution--it would become co-educational in 1974, incorporating girls from Bishop McDonald Memorial High School in the Crown Heights section of Brooklyn--Bishop Loughlin Memorial High School had originally occupied a gracious Victorian mansion built circa 1878 for, but only occupied for a short time by, the first bishop of Brooklyn, John Loughlin. The house is now used as a residence for its faculty members. In 1933, a more utilitarian building was constructed next door--one whose architecture is typical of high schools all over the United States--and that is where, from 1957 until his graduation in 1961, Rudy Giuliani spent an intellectually and vocationally stimulating four years.
There was an important First Amendment issue at stake. I believed that the mayor should never have the right to stop anyone from making a statement of any kind. People have a right to free expression. If they were to create offensive art on their own property, using their own funds, and someone were to attack them for doing it, the mayor would be obliged to protect them, and so would the police. But I believe there is a difference between protecting someone’s right to desecrate a religious image and being required to fund that desecration using tax dollars from the very people it offends.
Until I could get everyone to agree that the system existed to educate children, fixing little bits of it was symbolic at best. The system needed to say we are not a job protection system but a system at its core about children’s enrichment. All rewards & risks must flow from the performance of the children. If you took a broken system & repaired just enough so that it could limp along, you lessened the chance that a real solution could be reached. That is why I resist partial control over a project. The schools should be made into a mayoral agency--like the Fire Department--so the city can enact real solutions
The mayor’s proposal, unveiled in his address Monday on the state of the city, would bring about the biggest mobilization of teachers, students and resources since the board instituted mandatory summer school in 1999. Several officials said that although the plans for a sixth day of extra English, science and mathematics classes had been discussed with Giuliani over the last few weeks, they were stunned to hear that the mayor wanted to carry them out by sometime next month.
The weekend program would provide remedial instruction on either Saturday or Sunday to 45,300 8th through 12th graders who are lagging in science and math and to 38,600 immigrant students who are failing to learn English.
Partners in Reading operates at more than 100 New York City Housing Authority community centers, reaching out to more than 5,300 children. Teachers, parents and community residents offer their free time to strengthen the reading, writing and communication skills of our city’s youths.
Those who are trying to destroy our liberal principles insist that an America without prayer in school is a “Godless nation”.
-- Liberal Party Platform (2006)Source: NY Liberal Party Endorsement, in 3/25/05 NY Observer , Apr 8, 1989
Rudy Giuliani on School Choice
I’m here because of the educational choices my parents made or I wouldn’t be here or have achieved anything that I’ve achieved, and that’s the place where the decision should be made. Instead of having these education standards done in Washington by the Education Department or some bureaucrats in a state capital or in a board, the choice should be made by parents. Parents should choose the school that their child goes to, the same way people choose higher education. Has it ever occurred to us that highe education is still the very, very best in the world? You’re asking me about K through 12. Well, higher education is based on choice. It’s based on a large consumer market. It’s based on competition. It’s the area of K through 12 where we have this government command sort of approach. If we give the choice to parents, where they can choose a private school, a parochial school, a public school, a charter school, home schooling, let them be the decider. We’ll see a big revolution in education.
Let parents be the deciders on their children’s education Source: 2007 Des Moines Register Republican Debate , Dec 12, 2007
Q: Do you think that you’re taking a risk to come here [to an Hispanic forum]?
All parents want more control & choice over kids’ schooling
A: I don’t see any risk at all. Hispanic Americans are Americans, just as much as all other Americans. They have the same values, the same interests. I learned that being mayor of the largest Hispanic city in the US. I learned we have very common values. Hispanics have a tremendous interest in giving more freedom back to people, giving people more of a chance to decide on the education of their child. That’s why I think school choice would be a very good thing to do for Hispanics, for Hispanic parents, for all parents. The decision on where the child goes to school should primarily be made by the parent, and the parent should decide what school the child goes to, not the government bureaucrat. That’s one of many things that really unites what Hispanics want and need and what all parents want and need, which is more control over their child’s education. And that’s something that I would fight very hard to bring about.
Source: 2007 Republican primary debate on Univision , Dec 9, 2007
Q: 1 out of 3 Hispanic students don’t finish high school. What would you do to stop dropouts?
Revolutionize public education by allowing for choice
A: I’m the product of a Catholic education from the day I started in kindergarten until the day I got out of college. And it was my parents’ choice. It was hard for them to afford it. I was fortunate enough to get scholarships along the way to help. But the reality is, that’s really the answer. We can revolutionize public education in this country by allowing for choice. Why do we have the best higher education in the world and K-12 that’s under great stress? Because higher education is based on choice. The government doesn’t force you to go there. We should empower parents by giving them the money, giving them scholarships, giving them vouchers, let them choose a public school, a private school, a parochial school, a charter school, homeschooling. Let’s give the power to the parents, rather than to the government bureaucrats. And we will turn around education within three years.
Source: 2007 Republican primary debate on Univision , Dec 9, 2007
I want to tell you a little story, because this is the thing that made me feel very strongly about choice. There was a school scholarship program about 1997. They offered 2,500 scholarships to parents of public school children in NYC if they wanted to send their child to a private school, a parochial school, a charter school. We had 168,000 applications by those parents. We had to turn most of them down. We had to tell them because they don’t have enough money, they couldn’t put the child in the school of their choice.
Empower parents to decide parochial, charter, or home school
It seems to me the thing that’s wrong right at the core of No Child Left Behind is the enforcer of standards should not be the bureaucrat in Washington or on the board of education. It should be the parent. We should empower parents. They should decide--private school, parochial school, public school, charter school, home school.
Why should a government bureaucrat be sending 168,000 children to failing schools when parents think they can do better for their children?
Source: 2007 GOP primary debate in Orlando, Florida , Oct 21, 2007
If you want to change people’s minds, you have to stop pandering to them--even if it means using words they don’t like. A good example is the word “voucher.” If I used other language to describe a voucher, people would have a more positive reaction. The reason was that the word had been demonized--the teachers’ unions characterized it as a threat to de-fund public schools. It had become a demonized word.
Supports vouchers and supports using the word vouchers
Nevertheless, I refused to abandon it, and still do. We’re only going to win the battle for choice for parents when the word “voucher” loses its stigma. In using all the euphemisms, voucher advocates cede the battle, because behind people’s fear of the word lies the contorted thinking that prevents voucher programs from being adopted. Those who oppose vouchers tend not to understand them. For those of us who believe in the concept, it’s our job to defang the word, to counter the irrational reaction to it. The more supporters say the word, the less opponents can milk it for propaganda reasons.
Source: Leadership, autobiography by Rudolph Giuliani, p.195-6 , Oct 1, 2002
New York should privatize failing schools. The Board of education has been trying to turn them around for five years, and in some cases ten years. It should admit that it’s failed, and it should bring in others to educate the children.
Privatize failing schools Source: 2000 State of the City Address , Jan 13, 2000
Charter schools are a great way to create competition. [New Yorkers] should want the competition for the good of our kids. Let’s push for more and more charter schools.
Charter Schools create competition Source: 2000 State of the City Address , Jan 13, 2000
I am going to continue to fight for a voucher program in New York City. Because I believe the experiment in Milwaukee is something that should be tried in New York. Let me explain my thinking about this: I think our school system is in such bad shape that we do not have room to exclude any experiment that might help our children, and that is proven somewhere else. Our children are entitled to all the good ideas, all the innovative ideas, and every new thing that is helping education elsewhere.
Voucher program for New York City Source: 2000 State of the City Address , Jan 13, 2000
Giuliani’s voucher program would require $12 million in setup costs. That’s a drop in the bucket of the more than $20 billion the city will spend on public education over the 2-year life of his proposal. Giuliani believes that if the Council approves the experiment, there is no need for the Legislature to act. If he’s right, full speed ahead. Maybe competition with the new voucher venture will shake up the public school administrators. Let’s give them the opportunity to compete & do their personal best.
Experiment in NYC with school vouchers Source: Daily News, Opinion by Ed Koch , Apr 30, 1999
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Page last updated: Feb 23, 2012