NCPA - National Center for Policy Analysis


June 5, 2009

New York City is facing an intense battle over school choice, where Mayor Bloomberg is in a battle royal with the teachers union and state politicians who want to strip him of mayoral control of the schools, says the Wall Street Journal.

Since 2002, the Mayor has been able to hire and fire the schools chancellor and appoint a majority on the city's Board of Education, says the Journal:

  • Academic results argue strongly for continuing the policy, which expires June 30 unless state lawmakers renew it.
  • According to the latest test scores, 82 percent of children in grades three through eight scored at or above grade level on this year's standardized tests, up from 74 percent last year and 57 percent three years ago.
  • Mayoral control has also eased the expansion of charter schools, many of which are performing better than the district schools.
  • In Harlem, where 19 of the 23 elementary and intermediate public schools are failing, all of the third graders at the Harlem Success Academy passed the most recent state math exam and 95 percent passed the English exam.

Before 2002, New York had fewer than 20 charter schools because the United Federation of Teachers, the dominant local union, blocked their growth. Thanks to mayoral control, there will be more than 100 charter schools in New York next year, which is one reason that the teachers union doesn't want the policy to continue.

Source: Editorial, "School Reform on the Brink," Wall Street Journal, June 4, 2009.

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