On First Day of School, Mayor's Ed Policy Gets Spot Exam

School's back in session, and you know what that means: a local politics story. The New York Times, the Sun, and WABC all have a look at Mayoral Accountability for School Success, a 501(c)(4) non-profit (like the AARP, the NRA, and MoveOn.org) heavily influenced by Bloomberg official who want the Mayor to retain the power over local schools he won in 2002.

The Mayor's power grab won favor in early days, especially when he ended social promotion for underperforming primary school students -- the New York Observer wrote, "New York City schoolchildren have a friend in Mayor Michael Bloomberg," and scored the "grandstanding and bellyaching" of the teachers' union, and a New York magazine article called the UFT's resistance a "collective fantasy" and compared the old City Board of Education to the Soviet Politburo.

But as the Mayor's rule has worn on, support for his education policies may be wearing down.

The Mayor's Panel for Education Policy, packed with mayoral appointees, continues to rubber-stamp the mayor's proposals, but their March vote to end social promotion to high school drew significant protest from parents and politicians. The Mayor's recently-revealed plan to give standardized tests to kindergarten students has also met with resistance.

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The Times suggests that Albany may not be as receptive to Mayoral control of the schools as it once was, citing mixed results in standardized testing, which has been noticed elsewhere. It may also be that people are beginning to consider, now that the bloom is off the No Child Left Behind rose, whether students are well served by the Mayor's testing mania. Last month Nat Hentoff raised in the Voice the issue of student achievement beyond that measured, or encouraged, by standardized tests -- that is, whether the kids actually get smarter, value their educations, or go on to succeed in life.

The Bloomberg-knows-best approach has worked for the Mayor a long while, but it shouldn't be surprising that after nearly seven years some fatigue is setting in.

Image adapted from a Flickr photo by krispdk under a Creative Commons license.


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