The next mayor of New York City will assume control of the country’s largest school system at an especially challenging moment. That person will oversee installation of the rigorous new Common Core learning standards. This ambitious set of academic goals, which has been adopted by all but a handful of states, is intended to move schools away from rote learning and memorization toward a writing-intensive curriculum that cultivates reasoning skills required by the new economy.
In addition to a new curriculum, this transformation will require new tests, and, most important, a high-quality professional development system that helps teachers master a whole new approach to instruction.
And that’s not all. The next mayor will have to negotiate a new contract with teachers and install a new teacher evaluation system while managing a system that consists of 1.1 million students, 75,000 teachers and about 1,800 schools. One huge challenge is that only about 22 percent of students who started ninth grade in 2008 were college-ready by state measures when they graduated in 2012. Improving on that distressingly low figure has to be a high priority.
Nearly all of the candidates speak passionately about education. And some — notably Bill de Blasio, Christine Quinn and William Thompson Jr. — have been thoughtful and specific in terms of what they would do to move the system forward. But emotional flash points in this campaign have centered on three issues: mayoral control, specifically whether the State Legislature gave Mayor Michael Bloomberg too much power when it consolidated authority over the schools in City Hall in 2002; failing schools and when to close them; and the role of charter schools, which receive public money but are exempt from some state regulations.
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Via Chuck Sherwood, Senior Associate, TeleDimensions, Inc