Mike Bloomberg on Education

Mayor of New York City (Independent)


NYC schools did improve; and better for minorities

[As NYC mayor], we had a school system that was dysfunctional. When I got to New York City in January of 2002, there was zero New York City schools on the states list of the top 25 schools in the state.

When I left I think it was 23 out of 25 were from New York City. You can improve schools. And we cut the gap between the wealthy kids and the poor kids and how they tested. We actually cut it dramatically.

You can do those things if you try to work together and get people to cooperate. And you do it by reaching out and I've always done that. My company's 20,000 people, and we deal all over the world.

And in the end, rich or poor, no matter your ethnicity, orientation, gender, whatever; we all want to have recognition and respect and that's exactly what I know how to do. I'm a manager. And I had 300,000 people that I supervised. Pulling people together, making them feel that they're part of the solution is what management is all about. That's what I do.

Source: CNN S. C. Town Hall for 2020 Presidential primary , Feb 26, 2020

Charter schools worked in NYC, but not everywhere

Q: A key element of your response to failing schools in New York City was a dramatic increase in public charter schools. As president, would you pursue that same strategy nationwide?

BLOOMBERG: I'm not sure they're appropriate every place. In New York City, they provided parents with an alternative. The charter schools are mixed in with the non-charter public schools, because our charter schools are public schools, as well. They've helped each other.

Q: Has it worked in NYC?

BLOOMBERG: When I came into office, zero NYC schools were in the top 25 of the state. When I left, 23 out of 25 were from NYC. We've cut the gap between the rich and the poor. We've made an enormous difference in all of the options that parents have. I raised teacher salaries by 43%. I put an extra $5 billion into our school system. I value education. It is the only way to solve the poverty problem is to get people a good education. And rather than just talk about it in New York, we actually did it.

Source: 10th Democratic Primary debate on eve of S.C. primary , Feb 25, 2020

Make education and training a national priority

Mike will work with states to upgrade America's career-training system through major new investments in community and technical colleges and through partnering with employers. He will invest in apprentice programs, with the goal of boosting apprenticeship starts to 1 million a year by 2030. He will streamline the government's 43 employment and training programs, pool their resources and focus funding on those that deliver the best results for people.

Mike will make sure people can access unemployment insurance benefits to help pay for career and technical training programs. He also will launch a pilot program to give people federal student aid for eligible short-term certificate programs.

Mike believes that college should be available to all Americans, regardless of income, doubling the size of Pell grants and removing barriers for DREAMers and formerly incarcerated students.

Source: 2020 Presidential campaign website MikeBloomberg.com , Jan 20, 2020

More than 126,000 classroom seats added, 600 new schools

Mike Bloomberg took over a broken and dysfunctional school system and turned it into a model of reform, raising graduation rates to record highs while also launching efforts to close the racial and ethnic achievement gap that had persisted across the country for far too long. Under Bloomberg, more than 126,000 classroom seats were added and 600 new schools were created. In 2013, high school graduation rates were up more than 42% from 2005.
Source: 2020 Presidential campaign website MikeBloomberg.com , Nov 9, 2019

Help public schools with deductibility of local taxes

The largest economic challenges we face include a skills crisis that our public schools are not addressing, crumbling infrastructure that imperils our global competitiveness, wage stagnation coupled with growing wealth inequality, and rising deficits that will worsen as more baby boomers retire.

The tax bill [passed by Congressional Republicans and signed by President Trump in December 2017] does nothing to address these challenges. In fact, it makes each of them worse.

EDUCATION: The bill, by limiting the deduction for state and local taxes, will make it harder for the localities to raise money for education. The burden will fall heaviest on cities with poor students, making it harder for millions of children to escape from poverty--and leaving more and more businesses with fewer qualified job applicants.

Source: OpEd by Michael Bloomberg in Bloomberg News , Dec 15, 2017

Push Voc-Ed: plumbers earn more than Harvard grads

Michael Bloomberg harped on the importance of vocational education. Bloomberg said the U.S. should deliver the kind of schooling that will help people become self-sustainable and increase a sense of dignity. If a person has the option of going to Harvard or becoming a plumber, he said he would suggest thinking about the plumbing career: "The Harvard graduate on average will never catch up to a plumber," Bloomberg said. "Partially because the first four years--instead of spending $60,000, you make $60,000."

Bloomberg said the poor in the U.S. need better education. By the end of his life, he said he's going to write a book about why the poor remain poor. "It's always the poor that get screwed," said the founder of Bloomberg L.P.

Source: Aspen Times 2015 coverage of 2016 Presidential hopefuls , Feb 9, 2015

Creationism boggles the mind, two centuries after Darwin

On Faith-Based Science: "It boggles the mind that nearly two centuries after Darwin, and 80 years after John Scopes was put on trial, this country is still debating the validity of evolution."

Today, we are seeing hundreds of years of scientific discovery being challenged by people who simply disregard facts that don't happen to agree with their agendas. Some call it "pseudo-science," others call it "faith-based science," but when you notice where this negligence tends to take place, you might as well call it "political science."

"It's scary in this country, it's probably because of our bad educational system, but the percentage of people that believe in Creationalism is really scary for a country that's going to have to compete in the world where science and medicine require a better understanding."

Source: Quotation cited during 2013 campaign on WikiQuote.org , Apr 1, 2013

Included among celebrity philanthropists who fund schools

Gov. Christie made an appearance on Oprah with Newark Mayor Cory Booker to accept a $100 million gift from Mark Zuckerberg, who started up the wildly successful social network Facebook. Zuckerberg's appearance on Oprah Winfrey was just one of the latest examples of celebrities or wealthy philanthropists jumping on board the education bandwagon. Bill Gates and his wife Melissa, of Microsoft fame, have been contributing to education through their foundation for years. So has NYC Mayor Michael Bloomberg, and even Sam Walton, the owner of Wal-Mart, has established a foundation to give away money.

What is disturbing, however, is the ease with which celebrities and national figures have disparaged public education. What do they know about the issue other than what the read or hear? The last time any of them probably stepped in a classroom was when they attended high school. I don't pretend that there aren't problems in urban schools. But let's leave the education business to the educators.

Source: Teachers Under Attack!, by Mike Spina, p.142-143 , Feb 17, 2011

Pushed for mayoral control of city school system

Bloomberg has the power to make policy decisions concerning his city's schools. The single biggest reason that a mayor should not control a school district is that it would put too much power in the hands of the single chief executive of both the city and its schools. It is a recipe for disaster because the mayor in control will be primarily obligated to govern the city first, and that could come at the expense of the school system.

The perfect example [is that] Bloomberg is anticipating municipal cuts that could amount to a billion dollars [of reduced state aid]. Bloomberg has already warned that a cut of that magnitude would mean that he would have to lay off as many as 15,000 teachers in the city. That figure amounts to the number of teachers that NYC has hired over the past 5 years.

Bloomberg has already called for the power to terminate ineffective teachers first. The NYC teachers' union has strongly condemned Bloomberg's call for the abolition of tenure and his layoff plans.

Source: Teachers Under Attack!, by Mike Spina, p.162-163 , Feb 17, 2011

Liberate 1.1 million students from deadly bureaucracy

By instinct, or inspiration, Mike Bloomberg resolved to do a great deal, and to do it fast, while the public still relished the idea of a new start with a new leader and new hope, before resistance congealed and the entrenched power brokers regrouped.

For starters, he was going to win control of the public schools, liberate 1.1 million students from a deadly bureaucracy and a greedy teachers' union--a goal that had defeated his 3 immediate predecessors. Getting kids through high school at last, with diplomas they deserved because they really learned something, was going to be his enduring contribution to a future America.

Source: Bloomberg: Money, Power, Politics, by Joyce Purnick, p.122 , Sep 28, 2010

All social problems are ameliorated by better education

Education reforms bear on his core conviction that American society is doomed if kids don't learn enough to find a place in an ever more complex economy.

"You show me one social problem that won't be obliterated or ameliorated if people had a better education. I don't think you can," he says. The subject triggers a memory of one of the new movies Bloomberg has watched from opening to closing credits--"Charlie Wilson's War," the 2007 film about a Texas congressman who had covert dealings with Afghanistan. In the last scene, Bloomberg noted, Wilson (played by Tom Hanks) could not persuade his congressional colleagues to appropriate $1 million to rid Afghanistan of the Soviets. "They wouldn't have a million dollars for education. It's a fact. I go to the movies once a year and I fall asleep. I didn't fall asleep this time."

Nothing on Bloomberg's agenda has generated as much attention as education.

Source: Bloomberg: Money, Power, Politics, by J.Purnick, p.209-210 , Sep 28, 2010

Increased school budget from $12B to $20B

NY's school system is on the scale of a small country. It aims to educate 1.1 million students in 1,575 schools. By the end of Bloomberg's 2nd term, the school budget had grown by nearly 2/3, to $20 billion from $12 billion, driven by a 47% increase in teacher salaries (to an average of $72,000 a year) and court-ordered state money from a settled lawsuit. The schools are also much safer and many have been reorganized into smaller units. The number of charter schools has increased as well, from 17 to 78, and more are planned.

As Bloomberg ran for his 3rd term, [others] confidently predict that the city schools--more than 70% black or Hispanic--will be the 1st urban system to match the performance of students as a whole around the state.

Improvement in the schools under Bloomberg is indisputable. Questions turn on the extent of that improvement--what the numbers mean and whether they are really reliable.

Source: Bloomberg: Money, Power, Politics, by Joyce Purnick, p.214 , Sep 28, 2010

Ban the use of cell phones in public schools

As the "Nanny Mayor," he accepted responsibility for revitalizing the public schools, promoted real estate development, calmed race relations, paid attention to the environment and improved even on Giuliani's record in reducing crime.

His stubborn insistence on banning the use of cell phones in public schools mystified and angered New Yorkers, more convinced than ever that the mayor, personally BlackBerry-addicted, was out of touch with day-to-day concerns of parents and students.

Source: Bloomberg: Money, Power, Politics, by J.Purnick, p.203-204 , Sep 28, 2010

Slash bureaucracy; reward principal & teacher excellence

From the beginning, we’ve pursued major education reforms that put ‘children first.’ That commitment has been the engine driving everything we’ve achieved in the past six years: Raising graduation rates by 20%; increasing reading and math scores by double digits; slashing the bureaucracy; funding schools more generously--and more equitably; rewarding principals and teachers for excellence; closing the shameful achievement gap between ethnicities.
Source: 2008 State of the City Address , Jan 17, 2008

End the shameful practice of social promotion

Four years ago, I proposed ending the shameful practice of social promotion for 3rd graders in our city. Not everyone liked that idea, you may remember. But our 3rd graders rose to the challenge--and then, when we expanded the policy to 5th and 7th graders, they rose to the challenge, too. Now I will ask the City’s Panel on Educational Policy to end social promotion next school year in the 8th grade.
Source: 2008 State of the City Address , Jan 17, 2008

No more tinkering at margins: cut bureaucracy; add charters

When I came into office, New York’s school system was failing--badly. And that means we were failing our children. Tinkering at the margins for decades had done nothing. In New York, we needed to get at the source of the problem--the inefficient, ineffective, and unaccountable Board of Education. With support from school leaders and parent leaders, we won control of the system--and that’s when the hard work began.

We ended social promotion; we lengthened the school day to provide extra help for struggling students; we worked to expand the number of charter schools; we cut the bureaucracy and re-directed that money into the classroom; we even raised our teachers’ salaries 43% [and instituted] a new program of merit pay for our principals.

Source: Speech at “Ceasefire! Bridging The Political Divide” meeting , Jun 18, 2007

Replaced school board with direct mayoral control

Bloomberg’s first mayoralty coincided with a major shift of authority over the city’s public school system from the state government to the city government. From 1968 until 2000, New York City’s schools were managed by the Board of Education, which was comprised of seven members. Only two of the seven were appointed by the mayor. In 2000, the local boards and Board of Education were abolished and replaced with a new mayoral agency, the Department of Education.
Source: Wikipedia.org entry, “Michael_Bloomberg” , May 2, 2007

No social promotion; more after-school

Under Bloomberg, test scores have risen and the City has obtained a higher percentage of funding from the state budget. Bloomberg opposes social promotion, and favors after-school and summer-school programs to help schoolchildren catch up, rather than allowing them to advance to the next grade level when they may be unprepared. Despite often tense relations with teachers’ unions, he negotiated an average raise of 15% for teachers in exchange for givebacks and productivity increases.
Source: Wikipedia.org entry, “Michael_Bloomberg” , May 2, 2007

Strengthened cell-phone ban in city schools

Bloomberg has enforced a strengthened cell-phone ban in city schools that had its roots dating to a 1988 school system ban on pagers. The ban is controversial among some parents, who are concerned with their ability to contact their children. Bloomberg’s aides noted that students are distracted in class by cell phones and often use them inappropriately, in some instances sending and receiving text messages, taking photographs, surfing the Internet.
Source: Wikipedia.org entry, “Michael_Bloomberg” , May 2, 2007

Focus on increasing high school graduation rates

As a result of the school reforms New York City has made, more students are graduating from our public schools than at any time in decades. Graduation rates have risen steadily and substantially during the past two years, surpassing every comparison gain in the rest of the state, and setting our students up for success. But we can not be satisfied with this progress, and we will continue working to give every New York City public school student a real chance to graduate and be successful.
Source: Press Release, “City Graduation Rates” , Apr 25, 2007

Debated against eliminating social promotion

Herman Badillo: We had some serious problems with [schools chancellor Rudy] Crew, because I was--and have always been--in favor of eliminating "social promotion" and of having policemen in the schools, because there are two things that are necessary to have an educational system: standards and discipline.

It took us years of pushing him to eliminate "social promotion." He just didn't want to do it. Crew agreed with me and he said, "Well, I'll get around to it." But he never got around to it.

Source: Giuliani: Flawed or Flawless, by D. & G. Strober, p.161 , Jan 16, 2007

No computers in early grade school

Look to our schools for more of technology's failed promises. Every parent wants his or her child to be computer literate. We all believe those without PCs in elementary school are doomed to a life of poverty and illiteracy, so we spend millions to equip classrooms with computational abilities and Internet access. The results? For all purchases of computers in the classroom, our children don't read as well as before, have a worse sense of historical perspective, know less geography, and possess fewer mathematical skills.

Are we using technology as an excuse not to teach how to think and how to work with others? Is the money spent on hardware discouraging the best teachers and limiting the curriculum?

I vote to take the computers out of the classroom in the early grades. We should focus on teaching the basic skills of reading, writing, arithmetic, logic, concentration, cooperation, personal dress, social interaction, and hard work.

Source: Bloomberg by Bloomberg, by Mike Bloomberg, p.152-3 , Aug 27, 2001

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Page last updated: Mar 20, 2021