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January 31, 2011
February 02, 2011
Or is it the shame of New York?? One can never be sure.
According to Barbara Martinez in the Wall Street Journal, Gotham's four-year graduation rates are soaring, to a record 65% -- or so says Mayor Michael Bloomberg.? ?A great day for NYC? Yes and No. As Martinez says,
The enthusiasm was damped somewhat by the [New York] state Department of Education, which pointed out that most of the graduates weren't ready for college. In New York City, only 35% of those who graduated were deemed prepared for college. The state defines college readiness as achieving a score of 80 or better on the state math Regents exam and 75 or better on the English Regents exam.
I like Bloomberg ? and not just because he is rich and shorter than I am.? He is not defensive.? "Is it adequate? No," he said about the new graduation stats, but "getting a high-school diploma is a very big deal."
I happen to believe that Bloomberg (and Joel Klein) transformed ?a rinky-dink candy store,? as he once described the education system he inherited in 2001, into something more like a Target.? It's cool. It's red. Yes, there are still candy-store fans, but, bottom line, education in New York City is better than it has been in decades. And Bloomberg, to his credit, despite a stumble with Cathy Black, has not backed down on his promise to be an education mayor ? to take responsibility for education outcomes.
?It makes a difference,? Seymour Fliegel, a veteran of New York City educator and former East Harlem deputy superintendent, once told me about Bloomberg, ?that the same guy who can command the garbage trucks and police cruisers is talking about education.?
It's a decision the demos must make, of course. There are plenty of fights in NYC.? (Most recently, the local NAACP sided with teacher unions to oppose charters.)? Do you want a school board making decisions about schools or as Fliegel says, the same fellow who commands garbage trucks?? Fliegel recalled meeting the mayor early on, and asking him, ?`You want to take over the city's schools? And be held accountable for how they do? Are you crazy?'?
Apparently so.? Bloomberg is still taking responsibility.
--Peter Meyer, Bernard Lee Schwartz Policy Fellow