The Underside of Bloomberg's School Reform

How the Mayor's Top-Down Revolution Locks Out Communities

Union bombast from Levy and Weingarten has made it almost impossible for Klein and Bloomberg to dispassionately consider legitimate complaints. Just as Weingarten used her Albany leverage over the mayoral-control legislation to win the UFT's 2002 contract, she may well be using her power to obstruct implementation of the reforms to try to win a 2003-2004 contract. One of the history lessons the Bloomberg team missed is that the professional unions have fought every effort to reform schools as vigorously as they've championed every effort to fund them. A mayor and chancellor more committed to real change than any predecessor in decades must find a way to separate constructive stakeholder critics from shakedown powerbrokers, and must open their ears to the voices down below who care. If this revolution is to take root and last, it will have to find a constituency in classrooms and communities, a challenge that has no corporate parallel.

Research assistance: Michael Anstendig, Tommy Hallissey, Cristi Hegranes, Ruth Mantell, Sarah Ruffler, Jessica Silver-Greenberg

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