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Mayor Bloomberg Proposes Bold Reforms for the Big Apple
posted by: Alix | January 13, 2012, 10:53 PM   

New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg delivered his annual State of City address this week, and in it, described a new bold vision for education in the Big Apple. As the largest school system in the United States with over one million teachers and students, the plan is being hailed as a big step that will likely usher in a new era of reform in the city.

Mayor Bloomberg, whose administration has been plagued with mixed education results and progress, called for turning a corner in 2012. "The education reforms we've pioneered over the past decade - no matter what the naysayers say - have been widely adopted by school systems across the nation, but this year we'll be putting our foot on the gas and picking up the pace," he asserted.

In his proposal that mirrors one of the most ambitious performance-pay systems for teachers in the nation, which has been in effect for two years in Washington, D.C., Mayor. Bloomberg proposed provisions that would award $20,000 bonuses for teachers rated "highly effective" for two consecutive years. After receiving the bonus, raises would be issued to retain the city's top tier educators.

Further, in a plan hailed as innovative by reformers, Mayor Bloomberg said the city government is prepared to pay off up to $25,000 in student loans — $5,000 a year, for five years — to top college graduates in exchange for a period of service in the New York City Public Schools.

Additionally, in addressing the union stalemate that has prevented the city from adopting a comprehensive evaluation plan, Bloomberg said he would call for the formation of a committee to evaluate teachers at 33 of the city's chronically underperforming schools. He indicated this action would allow the administration to "replace up to 50 percent of the faculty" at the schools, and to finally collect $60 million in federal grants that been left on the table as a result of the union pushback.

During his speech, in perhaps a forecast of what the reform-minded mayor might be up against in pushing forward with this plan, teacher union president, Michael Mulgrew, outright refused to applaud during education-related moments of the speech and commented after that the mayor was living in a "fantasy education world," proposing ideas that were impossible.

Mayor Bloomberg remained undeterred in his plans. "We have to be honest with ourselves, he stated. "We have only climbed halfway up the mountain, and halfway isn't good enough."

As the largest school system in the nation, undoubtedly all eyes will be on New York City as the plan is attempted. While reformers like Michelle Rhee had huge hurdles to overcome in years past, perhaps the reform climate of 2012 will work to advance the mayor's agenda.

What do you think of the proposals?

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