New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg’s education plan has raised graduation rates and created more high-quality schools, argues Paul T. Hill in The Atlantic. “Don’t ditch it,” writes Hill, who directs the Center on Reinventing Public Education at the University of Washington.
Bill de Blasio, the likely next New York City mayor, has made a lot of promises about public education. No additional charter schools; no free space for many charter schools educating city kids; less reliance on student test performance to judge schools; and a moratorium on the closure of low-performing schools.
If the new mayor follows through, he’ll dismantle Bloomberg’s Children First reforms, writes Hill. That would be bad for students.
When Bloomberg became mayor, less than half the students in New York City’s high schools graduated in four years. Today, nearly two-thirds graduate on time. Every year, more than 18,000 young people graduate high school than would have been expected in 2002. The percentage of graduates who enter college without needing to take remedial courses has doubled since 2001.
Furthermore, “new small high schools started during the Bloomberg administration are more effective than the schools they replaced,” writes Hill.
On campuses where new small schools replaced large underperforming high schools, the overall graduation rate increased from 37.9 percent to 67.7 percent. . . . Students who entered the new small schools with the lowest test scores benefited from them the most.
New York City charter students are learning more than their counterparts in traditional schools, according to the most recent CREDO study. That’s especially true for low-income minority students and special education students.
Across the city, in new schools and old ones, the trends are positive, writes Hill. New York’s next mayor should commit to key parts of the Children First agenda:
Keep pupil-based funding. Continue to increase the share of total funding that goes directly to schools. The students most in need benefit most from pupil based funding.
Preserve gains in the teaching force via recruitment from many sources, rigorous tenure processes, and mutual consent hiring at the school level.
Keep opening new schools especially in neighborhoods where there are few or no high performing schools. Don’t cut off chartering as one route to creating effective new schools.
Preserve gains in the quality of principals via rigorous selection and training and by maintaining principals’ control over their school’s staffing and spending, in-service teacher training, and purchases of assistance.
Perfect, don’t scrap, reporting on student gains by school.
Keep performance based accountability and continue re-staffing and closing/replacing persistently ineffective schools.
Continue the iZone experiment with new uses of money and technology, and help all schools use ideas that are emerging.
Is there a good old days of public schooling to which New York City could return?