Bloomberg’s campaign speech today at NYU, in full here, reveal how he must be living in a complete fantasy world – insulated from reality, even more than most politicians:
By 2013, we will have created – far and away – the best public school system of any big city in the country. Not only will more middle class families be staying in the City and sending their kids to school here, I believe we will start to see an entirely new phenomenon: Families from around the nation and the region will be moving into the City for the schools. That was unthinkable just a few years ago! Families will come because more and more neighborhoods will be offering top-quality schools that are as good as – or better than – some of the suburban schools. They'll come because our schools will be performing at higher levels than schools in Boston… or San Francisco… or Phoenix… or any other big city in the country. And they'll come because they want more quality school choices – and they'll have more choices here than just about anywhere else in the country.
I won't even mention the delusional aspect to his concept of how good our schools will be; indeed, there is no evidence of improved results if you look at the most reliable measures, the national assessments known as the NAEPs.
No, what is astonishing is how this speech ignores the obvious reality: that these families, if they could indeed afford to move to NYC, would soon find that there is no room for their children to attend school.
Already, nearly half of NYC kids attend overcrowded schools, class sizes increased last year by the largest amount in ten years, thousands of students are sitting in rotting trailers; and last spring, hundreds of kids were put on waiting lists for Kindergarten.
Special education students are being given services in hallways and in closets, many schools have lost their art and music rooms, and 86% of principals say they are unable to provide a quality education because of excessive class sizes. Today, school nurses complained to the Daily News that there's no room to isolate children who have come down with the swine flu because of the extreme overcrowding at their schools.
Bloomberg has cut school construction way back, and the new five year capital plan has only 25,000 seats, which will provide less than one third of the space necessary to eliminate existing overcrowding – not to mention a rapidly increasing school population expected in the near future, caused by overdevelopment and a rising birth rate.
Where will all these additional kids flocking to the city in the future attend classes? Bloomberg doesn’t say. He recently told Downtown Express that parents should stay out of siting new schools, since any such schools would not be finished until their children were in graduate school.
And NYC public schools will never be as good as schools in the suburbs or even in Boston or San Francisco until and unless class sizes are reduced.
In either case, it’s a lousy deal for our kids.