Billionaire Michael Bloomberg, former Mayor of New York City, gives away a lot of money. In education, he has generously funded his alma mater Johns Hopkins University, where the medical school is named for him. As Mayor for three terms—twelve years—despite a two-term limit, he had sole control of the city’s public schools. He hired a non-educator to reorganize the public schools, and he reorganized them again and again. Testing, data, small schools, closing schools, and charter schools were the hallmarks of his twelve years in charge. Test scores were treasured above all else.

Since leaving office in 2013, Bloomberg has shown no interest in public schools. He disregards them or views them with contempt. He has donated more than $1 billion to supporting and expanding charter schools. He has given lavishly to political candidates who promise more charter schools. He recently gave money for summer school, but the gift was limited only to students in charter schools. This is puzzling. Are charter school students more deserving than those in public schools? Are they needier?

This story appeared in the New York Daily News.

Former Mayor Michael Bloomberg is renewing a multimillion-dollar summer program to target charter school students with significant learning gaps exacerbated by the pandemic.
Charter schools can apply for up to $2,000 in funding per student through “Summer Boost” based on the length of their school days and programs. Programs run for at least four weeks and focus on English and math at the first- through ninth-grade levels.

“The best opportunity we have to help them catch up is during the summer months,” said Bloomberg in a statement.

The city’s Department of Education operates its own program for students in district and charter schools, while the Bloomberg initiative is only available to charter students.

Last summer, 16,383 students from 224 charter schools participated in the initiative — 34.5% fewer children than officials had expected to enroll. Kids learned in classrooms with a maximum of 25 students, and as low as four students in some schools.

“We found that not every school felt it was adequately staffed or prepared to create a summer program, and some schools already had programming planned,” said Jamila Reeves, a spokesperson for Bloomberg Philanthropies. “Some schools were understandably conservative about the number of students they could serve given burnout from COVID.”
Still, more than 70% of NYC charter schools ran programs, according to the organization.
Bloomberg touted the summer lessons as helping thousands of local children “get back on track last year.”
The percentage of students who met grade-level standards doubled last year in English and math, based on third-party exams administered before and after the summer.
The program is expanding to seven additional cities — Baltimore, Birmingham, Indianapolis, Memphis, Nashville, San Antonio and Washington D.C. — and expects to serve tens of thousands of students across all locations. The spokesperson did not know how many students would enroll in NYC.