2002-07-13 / Editorial/Opinion

Three Weeks In, Already Behind The Curve

Three Weeks In, Already Behind The Curve

Mayor Michael Bloomberg has been in charge of the New York City public schools for three weeks now, and he has already fallen behind in completing the first, vital tasks. When the mayor took over the system, he was given the opportunity to form a new, expanded board of education, come up with a way to replace the local school boards (they will expire next June) and to choose a new chancellor. He promised at the time to have a new chancellor in place by the end of school. The mayor ran into a problem, however. Few people who can do the job actually want to take it on. You can’t blame them for leaving a position to take a job that has the life expectancy of a second lieutenant in a combat situation. Bloomberg said that he would have a person for the job by the end of July. Now, it is the end of August. Want to bet on Christmas? Bloomberg has always favored a merit pay for school personnel. He lauded Giuliani for his principal’s bonus plan. Now, he finds that the majority of those principals who earned the bonus will be retiring this year because that bonus is factored into pension. Those who wait around for next year and do not again get the bonus will find a much-reduced pension. Go now, and get the big bucks has been the mantra. So much for bonuses improving school administration. All in all, 800 experienced supervisors are planning to retire prior to September. Bloomberg now has two months to find hundreds of administrators, thousands of teachers. He has promised to reform 110 Livingston Street, to sell the physical plant and move the bureaucrats that are left to Manhattan. He has promised to reform special ed, to make the bilingual program work. It is mid-July and he has not yet begun to work. He is now behind the curve. Like others before him, he probably will never catch up. Previously, however, parents had the local school boards to fall back on. Now, they don’t even have that flawed infrastructure. They have nothing, and Bloomberg seems not to know what to do.

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