Study says mayoral control has worked wonders for New York City schools

Mar 27, 2013 by

NEW YORK – The United Federation of Teachers – New York City’s teachers union – recently announced it will lobby state legislators to end mayoral control over the city’s school district by 2015, the year the current mayoral law expires.

DontfixitThe UFT wants to wrest control away from City Hall in order to re-establish the union’s influence over the nation’s largest school system.

But the union will have to contend with a powerful new study by a Brown University education expert that finds student learning has flourished since Mayor Michael Bloomberg took control of New York City schools back in 2002.

“The study, released by the Center for American Progress, found that New York was one of five cities that narrowed the student achievement gap,” reports the New York Post.

The analysis also found that reading and test scores among the city’s fourth- and eighth-graders showed regular improvement, the Post reports.

“Only 47 percent of New York City’s fourth-graders were proficient in reading in 2002, but that number rose to 69 percent in 2009,” according to the study.

It gets better.

“At the eighth-grade level, the math gains were, in a word, spectacular – the percentage of students who scored proficient or better more than doubled, leaping from 30 percent to 71 percent,” the study reports.

The report contains a variety of similar success stories, all of which beg the question: what is it about mayoral control of the schools – instead of control by a traditional school board – that causes such improvements?

The answer is pretty simple, actually.

City Hall can set school policies that are solely focused on improving student learning, whereas school board members often have to do the bidding of the unions that helped elect them. When personnel decisions and school budgets are used to help students learn, instead of protecting the jobs of union members, they can have a transformative effect.

A 2009 New York Post article highlighted some of those changes that occurred during Bloomberg’s tenure:

“Now students must prove that they are ready to move on to the next grade. And teachers, principals and supervisors all must show results.

“Failing schools have been closed, school crime has fallen, graduation rates have risen, and the so-called achievement gap between African-American and other students appears to have narrowed.

“Perhaps most important, (former Schools Chancellor Joel) Klein and Bloomberg have greatly expanded the number of charter schools — institutions on the cutting edge of education reform.”

That level of accountability and students-first innovation will undoubtedly be swept away if New York City’s mayoral control law is not renewed and the UFT is once again allowed to shape school policy.

That’s what makes the Center for American Progress’ new study so timely. It will help remind lawmakers, taxpayers and parents how children have benefitted during a time of union restraint – and what they’ll likely lose if the UFT succeeds in turning back the clock.

via Study says mayoral control has worked wonders for New York City schools – :: Education Research, Reporting, Analysis and Commentary.

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