Thursday, June 23, 2011

High-stakes school war

DFER's Joe Williams with a spot-on op ed in today's NY Post about how Bloomberg must step up and show real courage – or risk everything he's fought for and accomplished over the past nine years:

As he won control of the city's public schools nine years ago this week, Mayor Bloomberg boldly promised: "We will not have to tolerate an incapable bureaucracy which does not respond to the needs of the students."

Sadly, New York City isn't even close to achieving that bold vision: We learned this week that only one in three city high-school graduates is prepared for college-level work.

Meanwhile, Bloomberg's promise is being put to the test like never before.

…For the mayor to back down on even one of these issues in order to cut an easy deal would be a monumental disappointment -- indeed, a waste of all he's accomplished over the past nine years.

All those countless hours spent fighting to raise the cap on the number of charter schools, win the Race to the Top, improve teacher evaluation and re-up on mayoral control -- everything would go out the window.

Agree or disagree with the approach Bloomberg has taken (for the record, I think he could be even bolder), his reforms have put the pieces in place to bring real change to the city's schools.

But now the mayor has to close the deal -- moving from the small, incremental reforms championed on his watch to fighting like hell for meaningful, lasting reforms that will properly and efficiently guide the school system for the next quarter of a century or more.

Bloomberg's entire reform legacy is on the line. We're either going to cut through the political paralysis that essentially drove the city's education system into the ground a decade ago, or we'll look back at the last nine years as a valiant, yet failed, effort to save public education in New York City on Bloomberg's watch.

It all comes down to leadership now. The mayor who brilliantly won control of the schools nine years ago has a chance to determine, before this month is over, what he wants his education legacy to look like.

Bloomberg has spoken often about the importance of having a great system of schools in the city, and the sheer courage it will take to get there. For the sake of school kids and this city's future, let's hope that's the guy who shows up at the bargaining table.


High-stakes school war

Last Updated: 3:49 AM, June 16, 2011

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