Mayor Michael Bloomberg will leave office on January 1 after 12 years as mayor of the nation’s biggest city. His legacy will not be the transformation of the school system. If anything, he blew up the system, eliminated supervisors, closed schools, opened new schools, cheered the growth of the charter sector (which ironically is out of his control), opened hundreds of new schools, and used test scores as the measure of very school.

It didn’t turn out all that well, as this informant reports. He or she works in the headquarters of the Department of Education and has an aversion to boasting and false self-praise.

Informant writes:

“A Tale of One City and Two School Systems: How the Next Mayor Can Become the True Education Mayor

“Michael Bloomberg, the soon-to-be ex-mayor of New York City, has touted his education policies as a success for the students of the city. His political appointees at the Department of Education repeat such claims in endless speeches warning of dire consequences if the next mayor does not continue those exact policies. But the numbers tell a story of inequity across New York City schools.

A sampling of such facts includes:

SAT scores- in only 28 out of 422 schools with reported data did the average critical reading score match or beat the national average score of 496 in 2012. In only 31 out of 422 schools with reported data did the average math score meet or beat the national average score of 514. Only 28 schools had scores that meet or beat the national average of 422 in reading.

Advanced Placement exams- in over 40% of schools not a single student took and passed an AP exam last year. In only 56 schools out of the 468 with reported data did more than 50% of students pass the AP exams they took. And only 8 schools account for over half of the number of AP exams New York City students passed last year.

High school Advanced Regents Diploma graduation rate- only 20 schools out of 419 with reported data had 50% or more of their students graduate with this college preparatory diploma last year.

College readiness- in only 30 schools out of 407 with reported data did 50% or more of students graduate with Math and English score that New York State consider indicative of college readiness.

Now if the next mayor were to continue Bloomberg’s policies and those of his appointees at the New York City Department of Education headquarters fingers would be pointed at “bad” teachers, “corrupt” unions, and “bad” principals. But what the next mayor really needs to do, if the true interests of New York City children are to become the center of education policy, is change the culture of the bureaucracy that runs the system.

Let’s look at another set of numbers. According to the latest data 55 “networks” support New York City’s 1600 public schools. In 16 of these 55 networks less than half of the principals are very satisfied with the level of support they are receiving (this obviously underestimates the true level of dissatisfaction as few principals feel that they can respond truthfully to supposedly anonymous surveys sent to their Department of Education email accounts).

Bloomberg claims that principals are CEOs of their schools. Does that mean they can fire the bureaucracy that isn’t supporting them?

These networks are rated on a scale of 1-4 (corresponding to ineffective, developing, effective, and highly effective) that is supposed to measure their performance in areas such as support and operational services. 19 out of the 55 networks were ineffective or developing (again this obviously underestimates the true level of bureaucratic fumbling and inefficiency schools are subject to). What does Bloomberg have to say to the hundreds of thousands of students whose schools are being helped by less than effective networks?

Financial shenanigans abound as well. “Fair Student Funding” was introduced 6 years ago under which schools are supposed to receive additional funds for students based on individual student needs. So a school would receive additional funds for a student who is an English Language Learner or a student who requires academic intervention. But in practice schools are given only a certain percent of the funds they are entitled to. And that percent can range from 80 to well over 100%. Care to hazard a guess as to which schools receive 100% or more of their funding? One group is the new schools that Bloomberg considers central to his educational legacy. The one million New York City children in schools that were not created during Bloomberg’s years in office have had to make do with less than their due.

So what is the next mayor to do?

Implement a truly fair approach to school funding under which all schools receive the full level of resources they are entitled to.

Tear down the bureaucratic structure created by Bloomberg that seems effective only at pointing fingers.

Replace the structure with teams of experienced and excellent educators who are willing to support teachers and school leaders and work directly in classrooms and schools.

Recreate the Teaching and Learning Division that was destroyed under Bloomberg.

Then provide schools with the Common Core curriculum and supports that teachers have been clamoring for, but that the current bureaucracy does not want to sully their hands developing, preferring to blame teachers for not doing it themselves.

Deemphasize testing, expensive consultants, no bid contracts, a bloated bureaucracy, and the musical chairs game of closing schools, opening schools, and then closing the schools that were just opened.

Emphasize pre-K programs and arts and cultural opportunities for students.

Put children first.