The city’s schools are different now from how they were in 2009, the last time Anthony Weiner considered a mayoral run. Two chancellors have left, and two have arrived; budgets are tighter after successive years of cuts; and students and teachers are being asked to meet higher standards.
But for Weiner, the disgraced politician who is weighing a comeback mayoral candidacy, not much has changed. In a policy brief he released early this week as part of a media campaign to test the electoral waters, he lists school discipline as the city’s top education priority — just as he did in a similar document in 2009.
Weiner has drawn criticism for re-releasing the document, called “Keys to the City,” without a thorough revision. But the education section of the new version is more detailed than the 2009 version. Weiner lists 11 educational priorities, starting with “streamline the process of removing troublesome kids from the classroom” and ending with a proposal to give New Yorkers who complete a year of service a free year’s tuition at the City University of New York.
Ensuring school safety was also Weiner’s top priority in his 2005 mayoral run. Other education promises he made then, such as increasing teacher salaries, adopting a new curriculum, and scaling back the city’s Leadership Academy to train new principals, have since happened during the Bloomberg administration.
The new policy list does include a few adjustments to reflect contemporary issues. He now wants schools to “put a Kindle in every backpack,” and he also sides against the Bloomberg administration on the issue of whether religious groups should be able to use school buildings in the evenings and on weekends.
Some of Weiner’s suggested policies are similar to proposals other mayoral candidates have put forth. Comptroller John Liu wants to give a CUNY tuition break to all top high school graduates. And City Council Speaker Christine Quinn, in a major education policy address in January, said she wants to buy 1 million tablets for city students.
In general, Weiner did not make education a major issue during his campaigns for mayor and Congress, focusing instead on health care and other policies. (In 2005, he withdrew before a runoff primary after coming in second to the man who ultimately lost to Bloomberg. In 2008, he was elected to Congress but resigned in 2011 amid a sexting scandal.)
Instead, his strongest ties to the city’s schools seem to be personal. He graduated from Brooklyn Technical High School and has promised to send his (at the time, hypothetical) children to public schools.
His mother was also a longtime teacher at Brooklyn’s Midwood High School — mayoral candidate Bill Thompson’s alma mater — who retired with concerns about the Bloomberg administration’s education policies, according to a 2005 New York Observer profile.
Weiner’s full list of education priorities is below:
- Streamline the process of removing troublesome kids from the classroom
- Pay master teachers more for taking tough assignments
- Create a Master Teacher Academy
- Eliminate paid parent coordinators
- Make Catholic school preservation a Tweed mission
- Help private schools access security grants
- Reinvent teacher contracts for the new workforce realities
- Put a Kindle in every backpack
- Use federal standards for New York’s kids
- Let empty schools bustle after hours — even for churches
- Expand civic service with Gotham Corps