Mayor Michael Bloomberg said this morning that the test scores announced this week, which showed charter schools had out-paced district schools, are proof enough why the city should be expanding charters.
“There’s a reason people want to send their children to charter schools,” he said during his weekly morning appearance on the John Gambling radio show.
The average proficiency rate for charter schools students improved 7 percentage points on the state reading tests and 3.5 percentage points on math. The city’s district schools also improved but at a slower pace.
Bloomberg blamed the teachers union contract for the districts schools’ inability to duplicate the success of privately-managed charter schools, which have longer days and greater flexibility in hiring decisions.
But instead of making points about issues such as teacher tenure or seniority-based layoff laws, Bloomberg invoked more salacious news items.
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“The union keeps protecting people that shouldn’t be in the classroom that touch, have sex, whatever it may be,” he said. “It embarrasses other teachers.”
He said that more charter schools, which are usually non-union, were one of the answers to circumventing the union contract. There are 136 charter schools currently open in New York City, with 24 more on the way next year. Soon, more than ten percent of the city’s public school population will be enrolled in the privately-managed schools.
United Federation of Teachers president Michael Mulgrew said the mayor’s comments are, at this point, quotidian.
“He just can’t get over the fact that he has been wrong on so many issues — from closing schools to test scores — in what was supposed to be his administration’s legacy,” Mulgrew said in an e-mail.
Bloomberg also touted the 24 so-called turnaround schools that were poised to replace half of their staff next year until an arbitrator ruled in court that the city would not be able to carry out the reforms. The city is appealing the arbitrator’s decision and is due back in court next week. He said this year’s score bear out the fact that struggling schools serve their students better post-turnaround, although he said they still aren’t as high performing as he would like.
Bloomberg said he was optimistic that the judge would rule in favor in the city.
One of the only groups whose proficiency did not improve on the state tests was students who are still learning the English language. But Bloomberg said those numbers weren’t as bleak as they might seem. He reasoned that many of last year’s English language learners improved their English enough that they were no longer classified as such in student demographics.