Incoming New York City Mayor Vows to Change Bloomberg’s Education Policies

Bill de Blasio, the newly-elected mayor of New York City, wants to pause or reverse many of outgoing Mayor Michael R. Bloomberg’s education policies.

Bloomberg, who was the first New York mayor to control the system that educates 1.1 million students, promoted competition, data and accountability. He closed more than 160 low-performing neighborhood schools, replacing them with hundreds of smaller schools and public charters, which are funded by tax dollars, privately managed and nearly all non-union, write Lyndsey Layton and Michael Alison Chandler of The Washington Post.

Bloomberg also graded schools with A-to-F report cards and brought in a contentious teacher evaluation system.

“Bloomberg really epitomized an approach to reform that has been sweeping the country and urban areas, endorsed by the U.S. Department of Education,” said Pedro Noguera, a professor of education at New York University. “Market-based reforms — charters, choice, school closures. Heavy emphasis on high-stakes testing as a means of holding schools accountable. Bloomberg probably carried out that strategy more effectively than any other mayor.”

De Blasio, the first Democrat elected mayor in 20 years, plans to impose a moratorium on school closings, ditch Bloomberg’s A-to-F report cards for schools and stop relying on test scores as a basis for judging schools and teachers.

“We have to be willing to reverse so many mistakes of the Bloomberg years, especially the focus on test prep and teaching to the test that has really undermined our educational system,” de Blasio told a labor forum during the campaign. “What the mayor has done is failed our children. . . . It’s not the fault of the teachers. They haven’t been given what they need to succeed and they’ve been under attack the whole time.”

Additionally, ee Blasio intends to offer preschool to every 4-year-old in the city to narrow the achievement gap between low-income children and their more affluent peers. He also wants to create after-school programs for middle-schoolers and has proposed raising taxes on the city’s wealthiest residents to fund both programs.

Under Bloomberg, most public charters were given free classroom space, usually inside existing city schools that were underutilized. De Blasio wants to charge charters rent on a sliding scale, according to their ability to pay.

De Blasio’s proposed tax increase for preschool and after-school programming would require approval from the state legislature. If it passes, the New York program would boost a growing campaign to increase preschool access nationwide, according to advocates.

Randi Weingarten, president of the American Federation of Teachers, whose local affiliate represents teachers in the city, said de Blasio’s easy victory means that voters agree.

“New York wanted a new direction, in terms of public schooling, from the 12 years of the Bloomberg mayoralty,” said Weingarten, who has been mentioned as a possible choice for schools chancellor in de Blasio’s administration, an idea she swatted away. “I love, love, love my job,” she said.