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state of the city
State of the City
January 10, 2019
Mayor de Blasio says education is his top priority, but it receives little attention in ‘State of the City’
While the mayor has insisted education is the top priority of his second term, he has unveiled few new initiatives that affect most city students.
January 10, 2019
New York City will offer free eyeglasses to all kindergarteners and first graders
All New York City kindergarteners and first graders will receive prescription eyeglasses if they need them starting next school year, Mayor Bill de…
State of the City
February 13, 2018
Mayor de Blasio’s second-term education agenda? More of the same.
If education is at the top of the mayor’s agenda, it did not form the centerpiece of his State of the City address Tuesday night.
February 14, 2017
Little mention of education in de Blasio’s ‘State of the City’ address
"It was curiously flat in terms of education."
February 11, 2015
Council Speaker adds high-profile voice to calls for school discipline reform
Speaker Melissa Mark-Viverito said Wednesday that she will push the city to further reduce suspensions.
State of the City
February 3, 2015
No education news in State of the City speech, as de Blasio celebrates pre-K
Mayor Bill de Blasio took another pre-kindergarten victory lap in his State of the City speech on Tuesday, which focused on affordable housing.
February 11, 2014
Six weeks into de Blasio's term, unanswered school questions abound
Bill de Blasio filled his campaign with critiques of Mayor Michael Bloomberg’s handling of the school system, including his administration’s emphasis on standardized test scores, its shuttering of low-performing schools, and its enthusiastic backing of charter schools. But since taking office, he and his schools chancellor, Carmen Fariña, have offered few clues about exactly how they will address some of the biggest issues facing students and educators.
February 14, 2013
Bloomberg shifts tone on school reforms in last annual address
Listening to Mayor Bloomberg's final State of the City address, delivered today, one would not know the mayor has spent the last decade closing schools, fighting with the teachers union, and touting high test scores. Although Bloomberg opened the shorter-than-usual education portion of the speech by noting that the city's high school graduation rate has risen faster than the state's, he did not utter the words "failing schools," "the United Federation of Teachers," or "test scores." He also did not bring any new education ideas to the Barclay's Center, the Brooklyn stadium where he delivered the speech. Instead, he focused on the new schools he plans to create during his last year in office — including eight designed expressly to boost college readiness among low-income black and Latino students — and tougher standards that the state has already adopted. Bloomberg worked to manage expectations about this year's state test scores, the first based on exams aligned to the new standards, known as the Common Core. State officials have warned that proficiency rates are likely to fall, but Bloomberg had not until today acknowledged that his final test scores are likely to drop in his final year in office.
December 20, 2012
Liu says city should pay CUNY tuition for top high school grads
Comptroller John Liu visited UFT headquarters after being elected in 2009. Today, Liu proposed new education and economic policies, including the "community schools" model the UFT favors. The city should ease the path to college for top high school students by promising them free tuition at city colleges, Comptroller John Liu said today in a "State of the City" speech, his second in 2012. In the speech, Liu put forth a slate of policy proposals, including several focused on education, that he said would enhance the city's economic future. Liu is a likely mayoral candidate, but as comptroller his job is to safeguard the city's financial prospects. "The offer of free tuition would help motivate students and elevate CUNY, one of our city’s most valuable gems, to the level of a competitive prize," Liu said, according to his prepared remarks. "It would also be a life-saver for many working families who are struggling to send their kids to college." Liu did not explain how the city could fund the initiative, but it would not cost much. With tuition set at $5,400 a year, even if every student in the top 10 percent of each graduating class enrolled and would not ordinarily receive financial aid — an unlikely scenario — paying their way would cost less than $12 million a year. Other proposals Liu made today would cost the city a lot more.
January 18, 2012
City officials tout newest education initiatives at a Bronx school
Mayor Bloomberg and Chancellor Walcott speak with students at the Urban Assembly School for Applied Math and Science today. Mayor Bloomberg took his updated education reform agenda on a promotional tour this morning, stopping by a high-performing Bronx school with a principal who has gone to bat for him in the past. Bloomberg and Chancellor Dennis Walcott traveled to the Urban Assembly School for Applied Math and Science to tout the education initiatives that the mayor proposed during his State of the City address last week. Those plans include closing and reopening 33 struggling schools to clear the way for $60 million in federal funding, offering pay raises for teachers who receive high ratings, and repaying student loans for new teachers who excelled in college. The eight-year-old school opened as part of Bloomberg's small schools initiative, and the mayor cited it today as a resounding success. “The students and teachers we had the opportunity to meet with today are part of a broader story of achievement in our city, but there is so much more to do," Bloomberg said in City Hall's press release about the visit. (Geoff joined the caravan of reporters who tagged along and will report more from the visit later today.) Principal Kenneth Baum is also a longstanding supporter of the mayor's policy initiatives. Last year, he advocated for Bloomberg's (ultimately unsuccessful) push to do away with "last in, first out" seniority layoff rules. Walcott also name-checked Baum in his speech about reforming middle schools, saying that the principal's practice of sending teachers to students' homes before the school year starts exemplifies the community bonds that successful schools develop.
January 12, 2012
Bloomberg's turnaround switch would cause 33 school closures
Under a proposal laid out by Mayor Bloomberg today that took education insiders by surprise, the city would retain access to threatened federal dollars for struggling schools by riffing on a familiar strategy: school closure. The announcement in today's State of the City address sets the stage for a showdown with the United Federation of Teachers — and maybe also with the State Education Department. UFT President Michael Mulgrew had already dismissed the idea that schools could receive the funds without union support by this afternoon. But State Education Commissioner John King has yet to weigh in on the strategy. Under Bloomberg's plan, the city would swap dozens of schools from one federally mandated overhaul strategy to another in a bid to escape a requirement that the city and union come to terms on a new teacher evaluation system. An impasse over negotiations caused King last week to cut off federal funds to 33 city schools that were undergoing the “transformation” and “restart” strategies, which require new evaluations. Under the mayor’s plan, the schools would undergo “turnaround” instead. Turnaround is more aggressive than the other strategies, requiring at least half of a school’s teachers to be replaced. But it also does not require that new teacher evaluations be in place, according to the Obama administration’s guidelines for the funds, known as School Improvement Grants. Mulgrew immediately dismissed the plan, arguing that the union would have to sign off on turnaround. That would be true — but only if Bloomberg had been talking about the type of turnaround that the Obama administration envisioned. What the city is actually proposing is using a second, lesser-known turnaround that state regulations allow. Essentially, the city would close 33 schools and reopen them immediately, with new names and identification numbers. Then a team of educators selected for the “new” school would hire a new staff with the union’s input, pulling half of the new teachers from the original school’s roster.
January 12, 2012
In education-packed speech, Bloomberg vows to bypass UFT
Mayor Bloomberg is attempting to breathe new life into his enervated education agenda today with an ambitious and startling list of proposals that include paying top teachers $20,000 bonuses and bypassing the union to overhaul struggling schools. Perhaps most interesting is the way that he is outlining, in his 11th State of the City address right now in the Bronx, to resuscitate stalled efforts to transform 33 struggling schools — and still receive the $58 million in federal funds that were supposed to support them. The state cut off the city's access to those funds last month, arguing that Bloomberg's failure to reach a deal with the teachers union on evaluations of teachers made the city ineligible for them. But today Bloomberg argued that the city could still get the federal support without a deal. His plan is to change the city's approach to overhauling those schools, using the "turnaround" model. That model requires that at least 50 percent of a school's teachers be removed. "We believe that when we take this action, we will have fulfilled the state's requirements and the schools will be eligible for the $58 million in funding," he is set to say. The city had originally wanted to use the turnaround model, one of four federally mandated options, to overhaul the 33 schools. But it turned to backup models, "transformation" and "restart," because the union would not agree. Today, Bloomberg says he believes the union's current contract permits turnaround, according to his prepared remarks. In a telephone call before the address, a union official said immediately that that was not the case, auguring a fight that could drag on or even wind up in court.
January 12, 2012
Mayor's address comes against evaluations impasse backdrop
When Mayor Bloomberg takes the podium to deliver his annual State of the City address this afternoon, education insiders will be on the edge of their seats to hear his latest take on the fight over new teacher evaluations. Insiders say the mayor is likely to address the impasse between the city and teachers union on evaluations. That impasse has dominated the news in recent weeks, especially after state officials said cut off some federal funding to schools that were supposed to use the new evaluations this year. In the last week, blame for the standstill has flown from Gov. Cuomo and the state teachers union, but Bloomberg has been relatively quiet. The speech in which he outlines his annual policy agenda would be an opportune time to assert his position and try to move the situation forward. Whether Bloomberg will tackle the sticky topic during his address today is not assured, and what exactly he could propose to resolve the tension is unclear. Department of Education and City Hall insiders haven't tipped their hands about the content of today's speech, and the only news that has leaked out has been about other topics. In some ways, it's hard to imagine Bloomberg making a major education policy announcement right now. Several substantial Department of Education initiatives, including ones to reform middle schools and revamp instruction and assessments, are already underway, and the mayor has scant time or money to execute much more. But an immediate solution to the teacher evaluations impasse is seen as crucial. That Bloomberg is delivering the speech from inside the city's oldest coeducational high school, Morris in the South Bronx, has heightened speculation about the speech's education content.
January 19, 2011
Boos drown out plea for "civility" at Cathie Black's PEP debut
New chancellor Cathie Black made her debut at the Panel for Educational Policy tonight to a packed crowd that drowned out her remarks with…
January 19, 2011
In State of the City, mayor calls for an end to seniority layoffs
Mayor Bloomberg renewed his push today for the end of seniority-based layoffs for public school teachers, who are facing greater odds of losing their jobs this year than they have in decades. During his State of the City address this afternoon, Bloomberg said that his first priority for legislators in Albany is pension reform. But a close second is ending last-in first-out — the seniority rules embedded in state law that could force the Department of Education to lay off teachers based on when they were hired. New York City has not had to lay off teachers since the 1970s and, though it came close to layoffs last year, the city dodged them by taking away funds that would have gone to giving teachers raises. But this year, the city is operating without stimulus funds and with the expectation of deep education cuts from Albany. In his November budget address, the mayor predicted that the public schools would have to lose 6,100 teachers this year. In his speech, Bloomberg noted that laying off the schools' most recent hires, who are also the cheapest employees, will mean losing more teachers than if the city laid off older, more expensive teachers. It will also mean larger class sizes, he said, in an unusual appeal to some parents' concerns about overcrowding. DOE officials typically downplay the importance of class size, and the mayor's statement comes after Chancellor Cathie Black caused an uproar by joking that parents in Manhattan should use more birth control.
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