Archives for category: Bloomberg, Michael

One of the major initiatives of Mayor Bloomberg’s Department of Education was the development of a new IBM computer system called ARIS (Achievement Reporting and Innovation System).

According to a story by Ben Chapman in the Néw York Daily News, the city DOE is killing the system because so few parents and teachers use it.

The $12 million contract to maintain the system was held by former Chancellor Joel Klein’s Amplify, a division of Rupert Murdoch’s News Corporation.

When Klein was chancellor, he awarded a contract to fix ARIS to a company called Wireless Generation. Soon after Klein stepped down as chancellor, Murdoch bought Wireless Generation for $360 million.

Steve Zimmer is a member of the Los Angeles Unified School Board. He began his career in education with Teach for America, then stayed as a classroom teacher in Los Angeles for 17 years. When he ran for re-election, corporate reformers amassed a huge campaign chest to defeat him. He was outspent 4-1, but he won.

Zimmer is known as a thoughtful board member who cares about children, class size, and the quality of education for all children.

He posted the following on his Facebook page:


It is less than 24 hours until Election Day.

I never imagined the right wing billionaires that tried to take me out of my school board seat in 2013 could donate more and distort the truth greater than they did against me. But that time has come. In tomorrow’s election for California State Superintendent of Public Instruction, the billionaires have outdone themselves, pouring over 11 million dollars into Charter School Operator Marshall Tuck’s campaign to unseat former teacher Tom Torlakson. This incredible cast of characters represents a who’s who of the corporate school privatization movement. Just take a look at who is on Marshall Tuck’s 500,000+ donor list. Each and every one of these donors has supported Republican campaigns, efforts to deregulate almost every major industry, gut workers rights and fight every sensible Obama initiative. And now several of the​m​ are among the largest donors to the Republican effort to take the U.S. Senate. Here are just a few:

Julian Robertson 1,000,000
Eli Broad $1,000,000
Michael Bloomberg $1,000,000
Bill Bloomfield $1,000,000
AliceWalton $1,000,000
Carrie Penner Walton $500,000
John Douglas Arnold $500,000

The billionaires have distorted Tom Torlakson’s moderate, successful record during his first term. They ignore the substantial improvements in all measurable areas throughout the state that have culminated in our first ever 80% statewide graduation rate. Because they mostly opposed Proposition 30, they want us forget that Tom Torlakson led they way towards rescuing our and fighting for all forms of local control. And in Marshall Tuck they have found the perfect private sector candidate. I’ve worked directly with Marshall. He is not a bad person and he is not trying to ruin our schools. But he fundamentally believes schools should be run as a business. He slashed classified jobs and promoted cut throat competition between schools as a charter school leader. As a candidate he has raised the ugly flag of demonizing teachers and has promised to drop t​he appeal of the Vergara lawsuit. He has also promised to force all California districts to have teacher evaluation systems directly linked to student’s standardized test scores.

We can’t let this happen. Tomorrow we have to show that public education in California is not for sale. Tomorrow we have to show that we can transform outcomes for students by working together not blaming those who have dedicated their lives to our schools. We can’t let these modern day​ robber​ barons steal this crucial election.

I ask you to do everything you can in the next 24 hours to turn out every progressive, every democrat, every person who care​s​ about our schools and every person who cares about democracy to vote for Tom Torlakson. The ultra rich controlling our democracy is not a new story. But the consequences if they are successful tomorrow will be unprecedented. I still believe we are more powerful than money. Let us all​,​ in California and throughout our nation, show the power of the people. Thank you for doing all you can.


Sarah Lahm, writing in “In These Times,” follows the money being spent in the Minneapolis school board race. She says that outside Minneapolis funders have spent $290,000 on the school board race. How can grassroots parent and community leaders compete for office when billionaires decide to lavish hundreds of thousands of dollars to control the local school board? It can be done. We have seen candidates in past few years–like Amy Frogge in Nashville, Monica Ratliff in Los Angeles, and Glenda Ritz in Indiana–win their election despite being vastly outspent. What is key is reaching voters and letting them know that they must not allow big money to buy control of their public schools. Let them know what is at stake. What matters is grassroots organizing. It can counter big money successfully. The joke in Minneapolis is that the flyers from the billionaire-backed group accuse incumbent Rebecca Gagnon of being the candidate of “Big Money,” when she has raised only $12,000!


Lahm writes:


New campaign finance reports filed in Minnesota show that the 2014 Minneapolis school board election is being buoyed by a tremendous amount of outside money, including a $100,000 contribution from former New York City mayor Michael Bloomberg.


Bloomberg’s money went to a group that calls itself the Minneapolis Progressive Education Fund. This fund also benefited from a $90,000 influx of cash from California billionaire and venture capitalist Arthur Rock, and another $25,000 from Connecticut businessman Jonathan Sackler, a trustee of the Achievement First charter school chain.


A campaign finance report filed by the Fund this week shows that between July 30 and October 21, it raised $228,300 and spent $146,860 on such things as phone banking, strategy and campaign literature, including $8,500 for social media and website resources. In total, the group has spent more than $286,000 on the race this year.


There are four contenders for the two open at-large seats on the school board. So far, all of the Fund’s resources have been used to promote two candidates: Don Samuels and Iris Altamirano. In addition to a website that advises people to vote for Samuels and Altamirano on November 4, the Fund also sent out two glossy campaign mailers that advocate for Samuels and Altamirano and criticize incumbent candidate Rebecca Gagnon.


One of the Fund’s recent mailers says that Gagnon is “Good For Big Donors” and therefore “Bad For Our School Board.” Gagnon’s personal campaign finance reports show that she has raised a little more than $12,000, putting her well behind fundraising frontrunners Samuels and Altamirano, who have raised more than $65,000 and $41,000, respectively. The fourth at-large candidate, Ira Jourdain, has raised just over $3,000.


The Fund is chaired by Minneapolis resident Daniel Sellers, who also serves as executive director of both the local education reform advocacy group MinnCAN and the Minnesota chapter of its 501c4 advocacy arm, 50CAN Action Fund, which is also campaigning for Samuels. While some might question why out-of-state billionaires like Bloomberg and Rock would throw their money into the Minneapolis school board race, Sellers tells In These Times that he considers their investments nothing more than an indication of their support for the city and for the Minneapolis Progressive Education Fund’s desire to raise awareness about the election.


What Bloomberg, Rock, and Sackler have in common is their love for privately managed charter schools and Teach for America.


The candidates supported by the billionaire-backed fund said they had nothing to do with the fund.







The Network for Public Education has issued a BIG MONEY ALERT about efforts to swamp state and local school board races with outsize campaign contributions.

The ALERT focuses on a handful of races where corporate reformers are using their vast financial resources to win control. Many of the biggest donors are out-of-state and have no ties to the public schools other than a desire to promote charter schools, high-stakes testing, and test-based evaluations of teachers.

The race for state school superintendent in California has attracted the most corporate reform money. Marshall Tuck is the favorite of the billionaires and hedge fund managers. State superintendent Tom Torlakson is an educator with solid support among the state’s teachers and administrators. Torlakson is supported by teachers and their unions.

Tuck is the darling of the corporate ed-reform donors, having received such contributions as:

Eli Broad’s donation of $1,375,000;
Walton daughters and heirs, Alice and Carrie with $450,000 and $500,000 respectively;
Julian Robertson of the Robertson Foundation with $1,000,000;
Doris Fisher of the Donald and Doris Fisher Fund with $950,000;
Ex NYC mayor Michael Bloomberg contributed $250,000;
Houston billionaire and DFER friend John Arnold;
San Francisco venture capitalist and TFA Board member Arthur Rock.

If you know of other races where the big corporate money people are tilting the scales, please contact Robin Hiller, executive director of the Network for Public Education, or leave a comment here.

Let me say at the outset that I am neither for nor against small schools. Sometimes they work well, because they have small classes and extra attention, sometimes they don’t, especially when they don’t provide classes for English language learners or advanced courses or foreign languages. As always, it depends.

Recently a report by a research organization called MRDC asserted that New York City’s Gates-funded small high schools were surprisingly successful.

But an underground researcher in the NYC Department of a education says, wait a minute. Review the evidence.

He/she writes:


How to Reform a Portfolio District


In what has become an annual propaganda exercise, MDRC (yes, their corporate name is just the initials), a “research foundation” in New York City, has self-published a non-peer reviewed paper on their website claiming that the new small high schools created under the Bloomberg administration are a success.[1] The New York Times followed up with an editorial claiming that “the Bloomberg approach has been vindicated” and that de Blasio should continue the same educational policies.[2]


Is there any truth to these claims? Does the data support any of this? The answer is “no.” The papers self-published by the MDRC are shoddily researched with clear biases and poor grounding in reality. It order to keep the size of this essay to a manageable length let’s limit ourselves to a Top 10 list of the paper’s flaws.


  1. The Gates Foundation provides the funding for these papers. The Gates Foundation also funded many of the new small high schools in New York City. What we have here is a circular process of self-congratulation. The peer-review process might be expected to uncover the biases produced by this unholy alliance.[3] But these papers have, of course, never been peer reviewed. They are self-published by MDRC on their website and then touted in press releases and newspaper editorials.
  2. It is becoming standard practice for researchers to publicly post data-sets used in such studies. MDRC has refused to release the data-set. This makes it impossible for their results to be independently verified or questioned.
  3. The papers claim that the new high schools “are open to any student who wants to attend.” This claim invents its own reality and ignores the existing literature that has shown how schools manage their admissions and enrollment processes so as to selectively screen out more challenging students. [4] It also ignores the facts on how the lottery process for these new high schools actually worked. In reality the new high schools used such tools as required attendance at information sessions, applications with essays, student biographical data, and listing mandated uniforms in the high school directory to screen out more challenging students prior to the lottery process as well as post the lottery process prior to enrollment. [5] A review of earlier papers in the MDRC series concluded that “carrying out the lotteries using the method described in the report may have resulted in nonrandom differences between the study groups.” [6] MDRC has never addressed these issues and continues to self-publish these papers on their website. It seems MDRC is more interested in continued funding than actually figuring out what really works for all students.
  4. The new small high schools have been found to engage in questionable academic practices and the manipulation of data at a higher rate than other high schools. For example, the new small high schools represent about 25% of all New York City high schools, yet in one year they made up 60% of the schools with patterns of data so suspicious that the Department of Education did not give them a grade. This should raise some serious concerns that MDRC does not address.
  5. For mysterious reasons MDRC excluded 33 small new secondary schools, a potential 30% increase in the number of schools examined in their self-published papers, even though 9th graders also apply to these schools through the high school admissions process. This may lead to significant bias in the results, especially since 6-12 schools are included in the comparison group.
  6. The new small high schools were closed at the same rate as existing schools, raising serious doubts about claims that the new small high schools as a whole were an improvement over existing schools.[7] This reality, of course, also biases the outcomes of the MDRC papers. Since the closed and closing new small high schools cease to accept 9th graders, their lower student outcomes would have a smaller impact on outcomes in these reports. The closed and closing new small high schools include, Manhattan Theatre Lab, Gateway School For Environmental Research and Technology, International Arts Business School, Global Enterprise High School, High School of Performance and Stagecraft (renamed Performance Conservatory), Urban Assembly Academy for History and Citizenship for Young Men, and the School for Community Research and Learning. Interestingly enough about 7% of the schools in the MDRC sample have closed, which is very close to the effect sizes MDRC claims the new small high school have produced.
  7. The MDRC papers only examine what they term “oversubscribed” new high schools. Only about 85% of the new small high schools meet this criteria. Meaning that 15% of new small high schools did not have enough applicants to fill their seats. Remember this is in context of students listing up to 12 high schools on their application. This means that the comparison groups are not equivalent. The outcomes of the presumably much weaker new small high schools are excluded. In order to make the comparison equivalent, the 15% of comparison schools with the weakest outcomes that the matched students attended should have been excluded as well. MDRC did not, of course, make this correction.
  8. Even with their biased methodology the MDRC papers have shown that the new small high schools have no significant impact on mathematics outcomes for students. Given the greater constraints in scoring on math exams, this difference suggests that any positive effects in the new small high schools are due to more relaxed grading policies rather than true increases in educational attainment. There is a lot more evidence suggesting the same thing, none of which MDRC addresses. For example, examination of credit accumulation in New York City schools has shown that while new high schools grant more credits, the credits do not correspond to a rigorous college ready curriculum.[8]
  9. When analyzing outcomes of specific student populations the MDRC papers lump students into very broad categories such as English Language Learner and Special Education Status. Given the data showing, for example, that the new small high school serve fewer of the neediest special education students, such comparisons are clearly biased in favor of the new small high schools.[9]
  10. MDRC does not acknowledge the special “favors” that were granted to Bloomberg’s new small schools. This includes receiving a higher percent of their Fair Student Funding formula than other schools [10], having more available facility space than other schools [11], and excluding special needs students [12] and English Language Learners in their early years [13]. Any comparisons made in such an inequitable policy environment are ridiculous.


The current popularity of the portfolio district approach can be attributed to the following factors:


  1. a) Superintendents of urban districts and other district officials with no background in education- with zero expertise in education they have no clue how to improve teaching and learning.
  2. b) A reluctance on the part of districts to take ownership and responsibility for the success of their schools- this leads to the strange but increasingly familiar scenario of districts trashing the public schools they are actually supposed to be supporting and improving while praising and granting special favors to charter schools (see Newark, New Jersey and Camden, New Jersey).
  3. c) The short time-frame of most superintendents and other district officials in each posting. With no long-term accountability they can play the portfolio game for a couple of years- closing schools, opening schools, closing even more schools- giving off the impression of activity and hard work. Though no real progress is made, by the time this becomes obvious, they have transitioned into other positions at reform think tanks and foundations. [14]


Mayor de Blaiso and Chancellor Farina, please do not continue the education policies of the previous administration as the New York Times demands. Thankfully, you have already made very clear that you do not intend to, as the data show that the portfolio district approach employed by the previous administration was a failure.[15]


Here is what you should do instead:


+ Develop rich, engaging curricula that support student learning and train teachers in implementing these curricula with fidelity while having the flexibility to customize the curricula to the needs of their students.


+Return to a geographic approach of school support and governance based on feeder patterns between elementary, middle and high schools. This will allow for articulation and alignment of supports as students progress from one grade band to the next.


+ Improve the metrics currently used to evaluate teachers and schools. The current metrics penalize schools that serve more challenging students and are open to manipulation. The initial revisions to the school Progress Reports are a good first step in what needs to be an iterative and ongoing process.


+ Focus on equity and fairness at every level of the organization. Enrollment practices must be reformed so that all students are educated by every single school. Tracking practices must be reformed so that every student receives a challenging academic program. Funding practices must be reformed so that schools are funded at levels appropriate to the students they serve.


This is how New York City will progress and truly serve every single student.







[3] Peer review is, of course, not the perfect solution for identifying bias in research. For example, the famous Chetty et al. study that was used to support value-added measures to evaluate teachers and played a role in the California tenure lawsuits now appears to have significantly exaggerated its claims. See Jesse Rothstein’s working paper at where he notes:

“Like all quasi-experiments, this one relies on an assumption that the treatment – here, teacher switching – is as good as random. I find that it is not: Teacher switching is correlated with changes in students’ prior-year scores. Exiting teachers tend to be replaced by teachers with higher measured VA when students’ prior achievement is increasing for other reasons, and by teachers with lower measured VA when student preparedness is declining. CFR have confirmed (in personal communication) that this result holds in their sample as well.

The evidence that the teacher switching “treatment” is not randomly assigned implies that CFR-I’s quasi-experimental analyses, which do not control for changes in student preparedness, cannot be interpreted causally…

It is not clear that the association between VA and long-run outcomes can be interpreted causally. The evidence of bias in VA scores means that the association between a teacher’s VA and students’ long-run outcomes may reflect the student sorting component of the VA score rather than the teacher’s true effect. Moreover, even if this issue is set aside there is still a concern that students assigned to high-VA teachers may be advantaged in ways that are predictive of the students’ long-run outcomes, implying that the estimated “effect” of being assigned to a teacher with high estimated VA is upward biased. In both CFR’s district and the North Carolina sample, teachers’ measured VA is correlated with students’ prior scores and other observables. Neither CFR-II’s observational estimates nor their quasi-experimental estimates of teachers’ long-run effects control fully for students’ observed, predetermined characteristics.”

[4] See Jennings, Jennifer L. (2010) School Choice or Schools’ Choice? Managing in an Era of Accountability. Sociology of Education 83: 227-247 “Although district policy did not allow principals to select students based on their performance, two of the three schools in this study circumvented these rules to recruit and retain a population that would meet local accountability targets.”




[8] and

[9] See and for other significant demographic differences between older schools and the new small high schools.





[14] See, for example, the cases of Joel Klein, former chancellor of the New York City Department of Education, who now works for the Murdochs and of Marc Sternberg, former deputy chancellor of the now shuttered Division of Portfolio Planning at the New York City Department of Education, who now works for the Waltons.


Feeling down about corporate ownership of almost everything? So is David Greene. Gates, Walton, Bloomberg, Bezos, Murdoch, Koch. What don’t they own? Our votes.

David thinks back a century. Other oligarchs owned almost everything then. Of course, it didn’t occur to them to monetize the schools.

But we beat them back. We elected people to regulate the oligarchs. We can do it again.

Jeff Bryant notices an interesting new phenomenon: Corporate reformers have dropped their triumphalist tone, and now they want to have a “conversation.” But the curious aspect to their concept is that the conversation they want begins with their assumptions about the value of charters, vouchers, collective bargaining, and tenure. As he shows, their “conversation” doesn’t involve actual classroom teachers or parent activists working to improve their public school. It typically means a “bipartisan” agreement between people who work in DC think tanks or veterans of the Bush and Obama administrations or grantees of the billionaire foundations promoting privatization.

In short, the “new” conversation isn’t new at all. It is a shiny new echo chamber where the voices of working teachers (not counting TFA and AstroTurf groups like Educators4Excellence and TeachPlus and others created and funded by Gates, Broad, and Walton) will not be heard.

A real conversation includes the voices of those who know the most about schools and teaching and learning: real working classroom teachers, as well as those who know the most about children, their parents. If the reformers listened to these voices, they would quickly learn that those who are most closely involved in education are not part of the Beltway consensus.

The New York State Senate has written a budget bill that opens the public coffers to charter schools and guts mayoral control in New York City. If the Republican-controlled Senate has its way, the charters will get more money, will not pay rent, will get new slots for pre-K, and will be protected against any effort by Mayor de Blasio to reverse decisions made by the lame-duck Bloomberg administration.

In the past, Mayor Bloomberg gave the charter operators whatever they wanted. He was also a major funder of Republicans in the State Senate. The very sizable campaign contributions by hedge fund managers (Democrats for Education Reform) to New York politicians are paying off for the charter operators, which enroll 3% of children in New York State and 6% in New York City.

According to the report in the New York Daily News,

“The Senate’s budget proposal expected to be unveiled later in the day would bar Mayor de Blasio from rescinding co-location agreements with charters, boost per pupil funding for charter school students, and prohibit school districts from charging rent to charters that co-locate in an existing public school building, the Daily News has learned.

“The measures are part of a comprehensive seven-point charter school plan expected to be put forward in a one-house budget resolution by the Senate Republicans and five dissident Democrats who control the chamber together, sources briefed on the plan say.

“De Blasio recently rescinded co-location agreements with three charter schools operated by former City Councilwoman Eva Moskowitz. The Senate plan put together by Senate GOP Leader Dean Skelos and his members along with the Independent Democratic Conference led by Sen. Jeffrey Klein would reverse that, sources said.

“Under the proposal, the sources said, any charter school that was approved to co-locate in a public school building prior to Jan. 1, 2014 would be protected. The measure will state that any significant change in school building utilization relating to co-location shall not be authorized without the consent of the charter school.

“Charter schools in New York City receive nearly 30% less in public funding per pupil than traditional public schools. The Senate plan would boost the basic tuition amount the city would transfer per pupil to the charters.

“Charter schools for the first time would also be eligible to receive separate state building aid funding after de Blasio cut $210 million in city capital money earmarked for the charters that build in private locations.

“The plan would also pressure the city to provide public space for charters by creating an additional cost to the city if they don’t. Under the plan, sources said, the city would be required to pay an additional 25% on top of the per pupil money it gives out to charter schools so a charter can go into a private space.

“And in hopes of protecting charter schools from future problems with the city, the Senate would allow them to apply to the SUNY Charter Institute or the state board of Regents to oversee and supervise them, rather than the city.

“The Senate would also authorize charters to provide full-day prekindergarten programs, something Gov. Cuomo has said he would also push.”

Over the past dozen years, former Mayor Michael Bloomberg and his schools’ chancellor Joel Klein had total control of the New York City school system. The Mayor controlled the “school board,” which dared not ever vote no. They could do whatever they wanted, and their PR team cranked out press release after press release. The news of the “New York City miracle” spread around the world, buoyed by phenomenal test score gains every year. Australia and other nations swallowed the story whole.

When the New York State Education Department admitted that the test scores had been manipulated by lowering the passing mark, the city switched its success story: now the “miracle” was soaring graduation rates.

But all the while, the Department of Education was closing schools with low scores, opening new schools, and warehousing low-scoring students in schools that sooner or later would also be closed. Schools opened, schools closed. She’ll game.

Now the New York Post tells the story of what was once a well-regarded high school that was turned into a dumping ground. After the Post wrote about Murray Bergtraum High School as a failure factory–a school that is within sight of the New York City Department of Education headquarters, at the foot of the Brooklyn Bridge–students at the school wrote letters of complaint to the Post. The letters were filled with errors of grammar and syntax. The Post took this as evidence of a failed school system. The letters are indeed evidence of the quality of the school system where these students spent 11 or 12 years.

If they graduate, it will be a triumph of “credit recovery,” which the DOE encouraged to boost the graduation rate.

Conclusions: there was no New York City miracle. Judging school quality by graduation rates encourages credit recovery and fraud. What’s needed most now is a Truth Commission to sweep away false claims and to establish a record unsullied by boasting and pretense. It is not likely to happen, unfortunately, given that the de Blasio administration wants to ease quietly into a new and better world, without publicly airing the dirty laundry left behind. More revelations like this one, however, and the truth will out.

In this post, Mark Naison explains why so many parents seek to place their children in charters in New York City. Fr 12 years, the Bloomberg administration showered preferential treatment on the charters and ignored the needs of the public schools tat enroll 94% of the city’s children.

He predicts that the policies of Mayor de Blasio and Chancellor Farina will reverse some or most of the damage done to public schools by the policies of the past dozen years:

He writes:

Charter School Growth, Bloomberg Style, Creates Dilemma for the de Blasio Administration- A Special Report to BK Nation
January 31, 2014

By Dr. Mark Naison

In today’s New York Post, an article appeared claiming that Charter School Applications in New York City were 56 percent ahead of what they were at this time last year, putting pressure on the de Blasio administration to re-evaluate its efforts to slow charter expansion.

Those numbers are REAL. They reflect the desperation of inner city and working class parents who hope to find high performing, safe schools for their children and see charters as the best hope for that.

However, they are making that judgment, based on what they observe in their own neighborhoods, not because of the inherent superiority of charter schools, but because the Bloomberg Administration rigged the game by giving huge preference to charter schools, both substantively and symbolically, and using charters not as a strategy to improve public education in the city, but as a wedge to privatize it and smash the influence of the city’s teachers union.

The challenge of the de Blasio administration is see what happens when the competition is even, and when public schools are given the resources, encouragement and support charters were given in the Bloomberg years. When and if that happens, the demand for charters is likely to decrease as parents see public schools in their neighborhood improve dramatically and innovative new public schools open in their neighborhoods.

Under the Bloomberg administration, aided and abetted by police systems of the U.S. and NY State Departments of Education, charter schools were consciously selected over public schools as the preferred alternative when low performing public schools were closed. This preference was manifested in several important ways:

• Charters were given facilities in public schools rent free.

• In schools where they were co-located with public schools, the charters were given preferential access to auditoriums, gymnasiums, laboratories, and often put in the most desirable locations in the buildings.

• Although charters selected their students by lottery, they were allowed to weed out students who had disciplinary problems, or who performed poorly on standardized tests. As a result, according to Ben Chapman of the Daily News, only 6 percent of charter students are ELL students and 9 percent special needs students, far lower than the city average for public schools.

• When you count space, charters received more city funding than public schools, and when you add to that private contributions that they solicited, charters spent significantly more per student than public schools.

• Community organizations and universities willing to start new schools were encouraged by the NYC Department of Education to start charter schools rather than public schools.

These preferences had an absolutely devastating effect on inner city public schools, which were in the same neighborhood as the charters. In the case of schools who had charter co-location, it led to humiliating exclusion from school facilities which they once had access to, leaving their students starved of essential resources. But in the case of all inner city public schools, it led to a drain of high performing students, whose parents put them in charters, and an influx of ELL students, special needs students and students pushed out of charters for disciplinary problems, taxing those schools resources and making it much more difficult for them to perform well on standardized tests. The school closing policies of the Bloomberg administration added to the stress on those already hard pressed schools, forcing their staffs to work under the threat of closure and exile to the infamous “rubber room” for teachers who were in excess when schools were closed.

What occurred was a “tale of two school systems” within inner city neighborhoods- one favored, given preferential access to scare resources, hailed as the “savior” of inner city youth; the others demonized, stigmatized, deprived of resources, threatened with closure and deluged with students charter schools did not want.

If you were a parent, which school would you want to send your child to?

But what happens when the game is no longer rigged? When charter schools have to pay rent? When they can’t push out ELL and Special needs students? When facilities in co-located schools are fairly distributed? When schools are no longer given letter grades and threatened with closing, but are given added resources when they serve students with greater needs? When universities and community organizations are encouraged to start innovative public schools, not just create charters?

If all those things happen, and I expect some of them will during the next few years of a de Blasio/Farina Department of Education, then public schools in the inner city will gradually improve, charters in those neighborhoods will become less selective, and students, on the whole, will have enhanced choice and opportunity because there will be more good schools in the city.

The current hunger to enroll students in charter schools is understandable, given the policies pursued by the Bloomberg Administration, but those policies, which undermined public education, did not enhance opportunity for all students, and pitted parent against parent and school against school in a competition for scarce resources.

The de Blasio policy of restoring public schools to public favor is a sound one, and should be pursued carefully, humanely, and with respect for the hunger of parents and students of New York City for good educational options

Mark D Naison
Professor of African American Studies and History
Fordham University
Co-Founder, Badass Teachers Association


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