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July 24, 2013
Bloomberg critics release education roadmap for next mayor
A coalition of education advocates who have opposed Mayor Bloomberg's education policies have released their suggestions for the next mayor. The report, from the A+NYC coalition, offers a preview of priorities that might reign should one of Bloomberg's education critics take his place at City Hall: more arts and physical education, investing in community schools, shifting discipline authority from the New York Police Department officers in schools to the principals, and an overhaul of the city's accountability system for schools to place less emphasis on test scores. But while leading Democratic mayoral candidates, including Christine Quinn, John Liu, Bill de Blasio and Bill Thompson, helped launch the week-long bus tour in March that led to the report, this morning, the recommendations received a more tepid response. When this post went to press, Quinn and de Blasio had yet to release statements. Even Thompson, the candidate who has received the endorsement of Bloomberg's largest education critic, the teachers union, didn't send a statement until this afternoon. (The statement did, however, vow to "implement these ideas.") The relatively slow responses might stem from the fact that, with the United Federation of Teachers' endorsement already made, to Thompson, the candidates are focusing less attention on education.
June 12, 2013
Liu stands his ground, Weiner impresses in charter-led forum
Former congressman and mayoral candidate Anthony Weiner poses with a parent and student from Girls Prep Bronx at a forum led by charter school parents Tuesday night. Many parents gave Weiner a favorable review. Some mayoral candidates who have been critical of charter schools avoided uncomfortable questions by skipping a forum hosted by charter school advocates Tuesday night. But Comptroller John Liu not only showed up but said he would issue a potentially crippling blow to the charter sector if he becomes mayor. Liu said he would charge rent to charter schools that occupy space in city buildings, reversing a Bloomberg administration policy of awarding unused space in school buildings to charter schools that want to operate there. The policy has allowed the city's charter sector to flourish. City Council Speaker Christine Quinn and former congressman Anthony Weiner — who emerged as the audience's clear favorites — both said they would not consider charging rent, something that some critics of charter schools want the next mayor to do. "The model of charter schools is in part based on not paying rent," Quinn said. "So if you say you're going to pay rent, then you're not going to have charters."
June 20, 2011
Charter supporters seek kindred spirit to succeed Bloomberg
A screen shot of the web site registered 9 days ago that touts Eva Moskowitz for mayor in its title. Two websites registered recently — one earlier this month — raise an intriguing possibility: Could a charter school leader jump into the next mayoral race? The website addresses tout Eva Moskowitz, the founder of the Success Charter network, and Geoffrey Canada, the founder of the Harlem Children's Zone and Promise Academy charter schools, for mayor. Neither site includes any content. The websites, EvaMoskowitzForMayor.com and GeoffreyCanadaForMayor.com, might reflect mounting concern among charter school supporters that Mayor Bloomberg's successor will not continue his level of support for charter schools. The nervousness may have increased when Anthony Weiner resigned from Congress last week. Of all the likely mayoral candidates, Weiner had appeared to be one of the more supportive of charter schools. "Personally, as a New Yorker, Bloomberg's successor has weighed heavily on my mind," Democracy Prep charter network founder Seth Andrew, who registered the URL touting Canada in December, said in an e-mail statement. "While I think Mr. Canada would be a great choice, we've never talked about it and he's made it publicly clear that he loves his day job." Andrew used his personal email and mailing addresses to register the Canada site. EvaMoskowitzForMayor.com was registered anonymously through a hosting service based in California on June 6, according to WhoIs.Net, which publishes records of web site registrations. Responding to a request for comment by e-mail, a spokesperson for Moskowitz said that she had never heard of the domain. "Looked into it. Don't know anything about this domain. Let me know if you find out who bought it," Jenny Sedlis, the director of external affairs at Moskowitz's charter network, wrote via e-mail.
November 2, 2009
Would a UFT endorsement for Thompson make a difference?
On the night of his primary election victory, city comptroller candidate John Liu stood in the city's teacher union headquarters and thanked the United Federation of Teachers for delivering his win. In the mayoral race, by contrast, the UFT chose to sit on the sidelines and not endorse the Democratic candidate, as it has historically done. How much of a difference has the UFT's decision to sit out the race made for comptroller Bill Thompson's campaign? The answer likely rests on the continuum between not much and not at all, election observers said today. Those who argue that a UFT endorsement would have helped Thompson, if only modestly, point to the UFT's powerful voter turnout machine. In an election predicted to see few voters, the ability to mobilize teachers and parents could be a deciding factor in who wins tomorrow. A spokesman for the union, Dick Riley, estimated that union volunteers had made about 200,000 calls and distributed 50,000 pieces of campaign literature this year on behalf of endorsed candidates in citywide, borough and city council elections. The union also sends out robocalls urging its members to vote for candidates and its president, Michael Mulgrew, made appearances with candidates at press conferences.
October 29, 2009
Thompson: Grade tampering shows Bloomberg oversells success
Officials from Bill Thompson's campaign are pointing to a story about grade tampering at a Bronx high school as evidence that the city's education data is unsound. Yesterday, I reported that current and former teachers at Herbert Lehman High School are accusing principal Janet Saraceno of transforming the school into a "diploma mill." Student transcripts given to GothamSchools show that in the last year, dozens of students have been given credit for courses they failed or never took. Mayor Bloomberg has staked his reelection on his claim that graduation rates are rising, an assertion Thompson questioned in an audit he released as comptroller. "Today's article about Lehman High School grading fraud is another appalling example of Mike Bloomberg's corrupt Department of Education," said Thompson campaign spokesman Mike Murphy.
October 16, 2009
Cerf attacks Thompson for opposing mayor's promotion policies
Mayor Bloomberg's senior education adviser Chris Cerf (left) and former Congressman Herman Badillo touted the mayor's promotion and retention policies on the steps of City Hall this afternoon. Chris Cerf, the former Department of Education deputy chancellor turned senior education adviser to Mayor Michael Bloomberg's re-election campaign, said today that the RAND report released this week on the mayor's promotion policies "completely vindicates" those policies. Flanked by former Congressman Herman Badillo, Cerf said that the mayor's rival, Comptroller Bill Thompson, showed a lack of leadership for failing to support stricter retention policies during his tenure as president of the city's Board of Education. Badillo, who has also served as the chairman of the City College of New York and who endorsed Bloomberg in July, said that he urged the Board of Education to end social promotion throughout Thompson's term to no avail. "I have been against social promotion for decades," he said."In Puerto Rico, where I come from, if you do your work, you pass, and if you don't, you don't pass." Thompson's campaign has pointed out that he voted for a measure in 1999 that required low-performing third through eighth grade students to repeat a grade of attend summer school. Cerf called that opposition to social promotion "halfhearted," and countered that Thompson opposed Bloomberg's efforts to introduce new promotion and retention standards in 2004.
September 30, 2009
Bloomberg calls for lifting charter cap, building more schools
Mayor Bloomberg called for eliminating the state cap on charter schools today and said he would raise millions of dollars for school facilities if he remains in office for a third term. Citing the recent study by Stanford economist Caroline Hoxby, the mayor declared the city's charter schools an indisputable success and said he would open 100 more. "I strongly support charter schools for one simple reason: they work," he said at a campaign event held at the city's first charter school, Sisulu-Walker, which is celebrating its tenth anniversary today. I'll have more on what the mayor said, and what others think of it later in the day, but here are the major proposals: Eliminating the charter cap: This, like a third of the mayor's charter school expansion proposals, would require approval from the mercurial state legislature. In 2005, the mayor tried and failed to get rid of the cap, but did manage to get it raised to 200 schools in 2007. Asked what's different this time around, charter school advocates say the environment has changed. The state has nearly reached the allowable charter school limit and there's pressure from the federal government and like Race to the Top to remove the cap.
September 23, 2009
Thompson outlines agenda for better schools in first policy speech
In the first policy speech of his campaign for mayor, Comptroller Bill Thompson announced a ten-point plan to improve the city's public schools. Simultaneously attacking Mayor Michael Bloomberg's schools record and outlining his own priorities, Thompson outlined a plan focused broadly on changing curriculum and school environments, improving programs for under-served groups such as English-language learners and special education students, increasing community participation in schools and improving transparency in the Department of Education. Item number one on the mayoral hopeful's list was appointing a career educator as chancellor, a position currently filled by Klein who is a trained lawyer and does not have a background in education. "We need a Schools Chancellor with a solid and extensive education background," he said, "who not only cares about children, but who understands fundamentally what goes on in the classroom and respects the tough work that teachers and principals perform on the front lines of our system every day."
August 10, 2009
Thompson: I stopped social promotion before Mike banned it
The Bloomberg and Thompson campaigns spent the afternoon jealously guarding their claims to having ended social promotion, though whether either candidate has ended the practice is debatable. Bloomberg campaign spokesman Howard Wolfson led the attack this afternoon, saying that as president of the Board of Education Bill Thompson, currently the city's comptroller, failed to end social promotion. Broadly defined, social promotions means that students are bumped from one grade to the next irrespective of academic problems. Thompson's campaign shot back, defending the mayoral hopeful. "Bill Thompson was at the forefront of ending social promotion long before Mike Bloomberg decided to claim this initiative as his own," read an email from the campaign. In 1999, when Thompson was president of the Board of Education, he did vote for a measure that forced students in grades 3-8 who had low test scores, poor grades, and abysmal attendance to take summer school or repeat a grade.
July 21, 2009
Lost in the political war, modest but real grad rate concerns
The accelerating 2009 mayoral campaign is distracting from real information inside an audit of city graduation rates released by the city comptroller's office today. In fact, the audit is neither as damning as Bill Thompson Jr., the comptroller and mayoral hopeful, is claiming — nor as unequivocally rosy as the Bloomberg administration says. Thompson said the audit suggests that principals and teachers responded to pressure to raise graduation rates by falsifying student records. "The New York City Department of Education has become the Enron of American education, showing the gains and hiding the losses," he said at a press conference today. But the audit found no evidence of tampering. Thompson's declaration about fudging numbers came in remarks to reporters, not the official audit. "Is it just about sloppy bookkeeping or sloppy record-keeping? I don't think so," he said. He added, "This is a case where you can read between the lines." The audit also concludes that only 2 out of 206 randomly selected graduates, or 1%, did not deserve their diplomas. That's quite different than the 10% figure being widely reported. Auditors initially challenged 19 graduates, or 10%, but threw out the concerns about 17 of them after school officials provided documents showing they earned their diplomas. And 11 of the 19 had overall grade averages of 80% or better, according to the audit.
July 21, 2009
Mayoral hopeful Bill Thompson says he would fire Joel Klein
(via GothamSchools' ##http://www.flickr.com/photos/28995913@N07/##Flickr##) Democratic mayoral hopeful Bill Thompson said today that were he mayor, he would fire schools chancellor Joel Klein. In a document released today by Thompson, the city's comptroller, a chart compares "Bill's Vision" for the city's schools to that of Mayor Bloomberg. Item two, below a promise to "Tell The Truth," reads "Fire Joel Klein." "It's time to bring back an educator to our schools who can lay out an educational vision that goes beyond taking tests and creates opportunities for our children to be successful in life," the statement reads. Thompson's campaign spokesman, Jeff Simmons, said his candidate would appear on NY1's "Road to City Hall" program at 7 p.m., reiterating this latest campaign promise. The comptroller and Bloomberg have been feuding all day over an audit Thompson released today calling the city's graduation rate intentionally inflated. Before Thompson's press conference could begin, the mayor's campaign spokesman, Howard Wolfson, had already put out a statement crying politics and accusing Thompson, the city's comptroller, of having his own "failed record on education."
March 20, 2009
Anthony Weiner: Schools work is Bloomberg's "biggest failure"
Rep. Anthony Weiner at today criticized Mayor Bloomberg's work in the public schools — and seemed like he might want to keep doing that straight into City Hall. Anthony Weiner, the congressman who used to be a mayoral candidate and now is not so sure, sounded very much like he's still running at the Assembly hearing in Brooklyn today on mayoral control. In a brief interview with me, Weiner said that if he does run for mayor, education would be an important part of his case against the incumbent, Michael Bloomberg. "Arguably the most important part of the conversation," he said. He then declared of Bloomberg, "I think his most profound success was gaining mayoral control, and his biggest failure is what he's done with it." Weiner's testimony to the Assembly members who held the hearing comprised might have been his most bristling criticism of Mayor Bloomberg's education program yet — and was certainly a departure from previous declarations that he has made promising not to "undo" Bloomberg's work but to "build on" it. He said the mayor has both failed to empower parents and teachers — and has not produced good academic results. "When you look at the only true thing that you know can’t be fudged, how we’re doing on the national test, the results are decidedly mixed, and that’s putting it favorably," Weiner said. The candidate-like posturing came as a surprise to some at the hearing, who said they assumed the congressman's recent decision to hand back $60,000 in campaign contributions meant he was out of the race. One attendee, Damon Cabbagestalk Jr., a black reverend who has run for public advocate in the past, smacked Weiner on the back as he left the room at City Technical College and told him he hopes he runs for mayor. "You've got my vote," Cabbagestalk said.
March 5, 2009
3 things we know about Thompson's schools view; more we don't
Comptroller Bill Thompson. (Via ##http://flickr.com/photos/azipaybarah/2376506857/##Azi's Flickr##.) My former colleague Jacob Gershman is very good at raising subjects everyone is talking about but nobody says in print. He did so with today's piece on Comptroller William Thompson Jr., who is making school issues a big part of his mayoral campaign — without clarifying his positions on some of the main school issues of the day. Gershman argues Thompson possesses a "carefully cultivated irrelevance." But there is stuff we do know about where Thompson stands on education issues, though much of the facts raise more questions than they answer. First, we know that he's said he favors retaining control of the school system if he becomes mayor. It's unclear exactly how much control he'd like to give himself (a big empty space, as we pointed out), but he's said repeatedly that he supports the mayor having primary authority. "I may be in a shrinking group of those who support it," he told a committee in testimony that was supposed to be off the record but which I obtained when I was at the New York Sun. We also know the two main points of attack Thompson has selected for criticizing Bloomberg's school efforts: He criticizes the mayor on transparency, which he says is so poor that even his office struggles to understand the school system's finances, and parental involvement. Both of these are safe issues; they're exactly the points conceded by one of the most prominent mayoral allies on schools, Geoffrey Canada, and they avoid the nastier battlegrounds of school closings, accountability, and charter schools.
February 18, 2009
In first re-elect missive, schools are no. 2 reason to vote for Mike
From the mayor's new ##http://mikebloomberg.com/##campaign web site##. Mayor Bloomberg’s campaign manager, Bradley Tusk, sent out a letter to likely supporters today listing the reasons…
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