New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg looked slightly presidential yesterday, calling for major tax relief for Big Apple citizens while forwarding an ambitious, thoughtful education reform plan. Like any good politician, he exaggerated the academic gains made under his watch, but his trifecta of bold proposals earns him absolution. Most controversial is his bid to make teachers earn tenure rather than receive it automatically--and to support principals when they need to pull the plug on ineffective instructors. Next up is a whopping enlargement of his "empowerment schools" initiative, which demands tougher accountability for results from school leaders in exchange for considerably greater freedom to run their schools as they think best. And, saving best for last, he embraced a phased-in version of the Fund the Child approach to "weighted student funding," explaining that "the funding gaps between comparable schools can top a million dollars or $2,000 per student, year after year. That's not right and we're going to fix it." Hooray. And the "ideas primary" has begun.
"Bloomberg Proposes Overhaul of City Schools," by Maria Newman, New York Times, January 17, 2007
"Mayor Sets Schools Showdown," by Sarah Garland, New York Sun, January 18, 2007
"Hurry up and weigh," by Chester E. Finn, Jr., New York Sun, January 18, 2007