Printer Friendly Format Email a Friend

PR- 080-06
March 20, 2006


Visit from Mayor Villaraigosa Gives New York City Biggest Chance Yet to Serve as Model for Mayoral Control of Public School System

The Nation's Second Largest School System Looks to New York City for Best Practices and Lessons Learned on Education Reform Under Mayoral Control

Mayor Michael R. Bloomberg today hosted Los Angeles Mayor Antonio R. Villaraigosa on a listening and learning tour of New York City Schools. Mayor Villaraigosa, elected in May 2005, has embarked on an ambitious education reform effort for the Los Angeles Unified School District (LAUSD) - one similar to the bold and successful education reform agenda undertaken by Mayor Bloomberg at the start of his first term. Mayor Bloomberg and Mayor Villaraigosa spent the afternoon touring P.S. 282 in Park Slope, Brooklyn meeting with students and teachers to discuss New York's experience in education reform under mayoral control. They met with third and fourth grade students during their lunch period and held a "brown bag" lunch meeting with P.S. 282 Principal Magalie Alexis and P.S. 282 Parent Coordinator Kathleen Jackson Larkins. Mayors Bloomberg and Villaraigosa were joined by Schools Chancellor Joel I. Klein, Deputy Mayor Dennis Walcott, Counsel to the Los Angeles Mayor Tom Saenz and Los Angeles Associate Director for Education Marcus Castain.

"We've always said what we're doing in our schools is making history," said Mayor Bloomberg. "We've created a solid foundation that's producing great schools, increasing accountability and providing a sound education for every child. Our school system is getting better and that success is attracting attention nationwide. This is one of the great changes in our city that really bodes well for the future and we're happy to share our experiences with others. Mayor Villaraigosa's visit is evidence of the important progress we're making under the model we've adopted - where parents, students and teachers are working together to ensure that the more than one million students in our public schools get the education they deserve. Reforming education can be a daunting challenge, but having the courage to implement tough and groundbreaking policies and programs is essential to the success of all cities in the 21st century."

"I would like to thank Mayor Michael Bloomberg for hosting me in the great city of New York," said Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa. "I am here to 'go to school' on New York's education reforms. I wanted to study first-hand what education reforms are working in New York and what ideas might be applied to the Los Angeles school district. What I've learned is that large-scale, fundamental change in the bureaucracy can work."

"Under Mayor Bloomberg's leadership and the hard work of dedicated teachers, public accountability and rising test scores have been brought back to New York City's schools," continued Mayor Villaraigosa. "It's time to do the same in Los Angeles - reform our public schools - the stakes are too high and the needs too great to do anything less."

The New York City Department of Education (DOE) encompasses 1,400 schools across five boroughs with 1.1 million students and 140,000 employees, including 80,000 teachers. Focused on leadership, empowerment and accountability as drivers of educational improvement, Mayor Bloomberg's sweeping "Children First" reform agenda is creating a system where all students get the resources and support they need to reach their potential.

Accomplishments of the "Children First" reform agenda include:

  • System-wide reorganization: The Mayor and Chancellor reorganized DOE management structure into a unified, streamlined system dedicated to instruction. Instead of 32 Community School Districts, five high schools districts and six additional citywide districts, the school system in now organized into 10 regions that incorporate all schools from kindergarten through high school.

  • Ending social promotion: In the third, fifth and seventh grades, DOE has ended the practice of promoting woefully unprepared students to the next grade. Students must now demonstrate basic proficiency on the state's English Language Arts and Mathematics standardized tests. To support struggling students, DOE developed an array of interventions, including weekend tutoring, vacation-week classes, parent workshops and the intensive Summer Success Academy. The results proved highly successful: At the end of the inaugural Summer Success Academy for third-graders, 51% of students, or more than twice the percentage of students as the prior year, achieved basic proficiency on the summer test.

  • School Construction: Since the Mayor's reforms were implemented, the average bid price for school construction has decreased dramatically. DOE has constructed nearly 34,000 new seats during the past two years, more than a quarter of which were created by converting former district and administrative offices into classrooms - literally redirecting resources from the bureaucracy to the classroom. DOE's five-year, $13.1 billion Capital Plan calls for the construction of 90 new school buildings and 66,000 seats.

  • The Leadership Academy: Created by DOE in 2003 to recruit, train and support a new generation of outstanding principals for New York City, the Leadership Academy has become a national model. Its Aspiring Principals Program has recruited, trained, and placed more than 110 new principals in high-need schools, with another 70 currently in training for placement in September 2006.
  • New small secondary schools: Responding to the national failure of large urban high schools, DOE implemented the most aggressive effort in the nation to provide thousands of students - particularly those in communities where schools had historically floundered - with new, high-quality opportunities. Grade size in these schools does not exceed 108 students, helping to create a personalized and academically rigorous environment. In addition, each school is partnered with a non-profit organization that helps provide critical educational resources.

  • New teacher's contract: The City reached a contract agreement with the teachers' union late in 2005 that included, along with a well-deserved 15% pay increase for teachers, the creation of four 37 ½ minute periods per week dedicated to small-group instruction of struggling students. The agreement also ended the longtime right of laid-off or "excessed" teachers to take positions held by junior colleagues.

  • Record achievement gains: In 2005, New York City public school students in grades 3-8 achieved the highest performance and the largest one-year gains in both English Language Arts and Mathematics since standards-based testing began.

"The innovative reforms we've made in our public schools have translated into real and measurable results," said Schools Chancellor Joel Klein. "We're happy to share our best practices with other cities looking for effective ways to provide each of their students with the opportunity to be successful. In New York, we've created a model based on the belief that strong and empowered school leadership, held accountable for performance, will result in high-functioning schools. We've seen exciting success with this approach, and look forward to building on the gains we've had thus far."

The LAUSD is only second in size to the New York City school system with more than 720,000 students enrolled in schools across Los Angeles County. Mayor Villaraigosa has launched an aggressive effort to increase the City's role in managing the success of the LAUSD - through greater parent and community engagement, increased city agency coordination and system-wide structural reform. In July 2005, Mayor Villaraigosa announced the establishment of his Council of Education Advisors and has begum implementing changes by increasing after-school programs and creating a safe havens network to increase safety in, and around schools.


Stu Loeser/Virginia Lam   (212) 788-2958

Janelle Erickson (Mayor Villaraigosa)   (213) 435-9932

David Cantor   (Department of Education)
(212) 374-5141

More Resources
View the photos
Watch the video in 56k or 300k