Bloomberg Strikes Pragmatic Tone in Address About Schools

Tuesday, September 27, 2011

Mayor Michael R. Bloomberg pledged his support to the Obama administration?s plan to give states relief from the most onerous provision of the Bush-era No Child Left Behind law, which would require all students to be proficient in reading and math by 2014.

?We should?ve, could?ve, would?ve, but we?re not? going to reach all of the goals, Mr. Bloomberg said.

Speaking to reporters at NBC?s Education Nation summit on Monday, Mr. Bloomberg said schools ought to be judged more than by just how well their students do on standardized tests. He used the platform to make the case against a one-size-fits-all approach to gauge performance. And he pointed out the challenges faced by city schools ? ?a magnet,? he said, where students of different levels and abilities arrive virtually every day ? to stress the need for different ways to measure success.

?Success in life doesn?t mean you get a Ph.D.,? Mr. Bloomberg said, ?and we?ve got to make sure the education system recognizes other kinds of progress.?

Mr. Bloomberg, who persuaded the State Legislature to give him control of New York City?s schools nine years ago and pushed one of the nation?s most ambitious education reform plans, kicked off the first full day of the summit, where educators, policy makers, scientists, technology developers and even a sports star ? LeBron James ? convened to discuss how to improve schools.

He spoke for about 10 minutes, just before Melinda Gates and Warren E. Buffett, who have been major supporters of the same types of reforms he espouses.

His remarks painted a more pragmatic picture of assessing educational gains, and his tone stood in marked contrast to his address to the same group last year, when he delivered a feisty and boastful account of the ?huge strides? that were taking place in New York City schools.

Today?s comments ? on opening new schools, including charter schools, as a means of offering choice to parents; on closing schools for poor performance; and on making it more difficult for teachers to get tenure ? set the stage for remarks by the United States secretary of education, Arne Duncan, who has been a proponent of these measures and more.

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