Wednesday, January 17, 2007

The EduReform Of The Day

And now it's New York City's Mayor Michael Bloomberg's turn to attempt the reform of New York City's public education system:
With the city’s fiscal health better than it has been in years, Mayor Michael R. Bloomberg said today he would focus new energy on reforming the city’s sprawling school system, beginning with empowering school principals and reigning in a teacher tenure system that some critics have said guarantees lifetime jobs to some bad teachers.

The mayor announced his proposals to improve the public school system, along with a package of $1.1 billion in tax cuts that he said New Yorkers had earned through their belt tightening since the attack on the World Trade Center towers dealt a blow to the city’s economy.

The mayor said he would cut property taxes by roughly 5 percent and eliminate the city sales tax on clothing and footwear after a year in which New York has managed to lower its unemployment rate, increase its tax revenues and build on efficiencies in city government.

“I believe that a good portion of the surplus revenues we anticipate in the current fiscal year should go back to the New Yorkers who made sure that the city’s recovery from 9/11 exceeded our wildest dreams,” Mr. Bloomberg said in Brooklyn in his State of the City address to City Council members and civic leaders.

But the mayor said that the city’s overall economic future needs strong public schools.

“I’ve always said that our first priority is improving education,” he said.

He said that while on-time graduation rates are now “the highest in 20 years,” and scores in reading and math achievement tests have gone up, there is still much work to be done. Black and Latino students were closing the yawning gap in test scores compared to their white counterparts, he said, but still lagged behind. More than half of black and Latino students are not performing at grade level, he said.

“If that’s not reversed, too many of our children will face dead-end futures in a highly competitive global economy,” he said.

Four years ago, as part of his takeover of the city’s school system, Mr. Bloomberg helped create a system of 10 regional superintendents to oversee the old system of 32 local school districts.

But since the start of the mayor’s second term, Schools Chancellor Joel I. Klein has pushed to reduce the role of the regional superintendents, giving wider authority to principals. Today Mr. Bloomberg announced that the regional superintendent offices would be eliminated “now that their job is done.”

The 32 community superintendents will report directly to the chancellor, he said, and “each school will be able to pick the path that’s best for its students, parents and teachers. The money we save by downsizing our bureaucracy will go directly back to the schools.”

He also said that schools would be required to issue annual “user friendly reports” that will be sent to parents, grading each school with a grade of A to F “to hold the principals’ feet to the fire.”

With the help of the powerful teachers union, the United Federation of Teachers, Mr. Bloomberg said he would put into place a new system of teacher evaluations that would allow officials to “reward teacher excellence and begin to eliminate mediocrity.

The current tenure system, he said, rewards longevity over teacher performance.

“We must do a better job of keeping teachers who are effective instructors but at same time we must make sure that ineffective teachers are not awarded the privilege of tenure and the near-lifetime job security that comes with it.”
Read all of it right here.

We didn't see anything in the Time's piece or the transcript of Bloomberg's speech about the need to also hold parents and students accountable for their own academic success.

Interestingly, the mayor pushed through a huge increase in property taxes early in his term while just now cutting those on clothing and footwear.

Compensating, perhaps?
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