Ravitch reviews the record

In Wednesday's Wall Street Journal, Diane Ravitch criticizes Big Apple Mayor Michael Bloomberg's education policies and chronicles his tumultuous tenure. According to Ravitch, Bloomberg and schools chancellor Joel Klein were oblivious to the tug-of-war between vested education interests and knowledgeable K-12 reformers, and thus appointed a top deputy for curriculum and suchlike whose ideas contradicted the mayor's campaign promises. The mayor wanted to end bilingual education, but it expanded; he promised a back-to-basics curriculum, but wound up mandating reading and math programs that were soft about everything but implementation, which proceeded with lock-step conformity. This approach gave rise to tales of stopwatch-armed supervisors measuring the time a teacher spends on a particular subject and penalizing those who exceed the limit. Test scores have not risen and in some areas have actually fallen. Mayoral control was meant to free Gotham's education system from political squabbling but has instead yielded even greater politicization. Ravitch concludes, "Who would have believed that smart, pragmatic Mike Bloomberg would become a champion of constructivist pedagogy?"

"Would you want to study at a Bloomberg school?" by Diane Ravitch, Wall Street Journal, May 11, 2005 (subscription required)