FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
June 18, 2006
MAYOR BLOOMBERG DISCUSSES MAJOR EXPANSION OF EMPOWERMENT SCHOOLS ACROSS THE CITY - INCREASING AUTONOMY AND ACCOUNTABILITY IN NEW YORK CITY SCHOOLS
The following is the text of Mayor Bloomberg's weekly radio address as prepared for delivery on 1010 WINS News Radio for Sunday, June 18, 2006
"Good Morning. This is Mayor Mike Bloomberg.
"More resources, authority, and accountability in the schools; less bureaucratic red tape: Right from the start, those values have guided us as we've gone about reforming education in our city. And this week, we'll be putting those values into practice once again as we give greater discretion and responsibility to the principals of what we expect to be roughly one out of every five public schools in the city.
"Over the next few days, we'll be designating more than 300 Empowerment Schools throughout the city for the next school year. For these schools, 'empowerment' will be more than just a slogan. The principals of these Empowerment Schools will sign agreements to meet higher performance standards in such areas as student attendance, Regents test scores, four-year graduation rates, and college acceptance rates. To help them meet those goals, principals will get more authority over hiring, scheduling, and education programs. They'll also receive, on average, about $100,000 a year more in new money, and discretion to spend an additional $150,000 a year that used to come to them with administrative strings attached.
"We're confident these schools will succeed because over the past two years, 48 schools have already participated in a pilot Empowerment Schools program, and the results they've achieved so far have been very encouraging. If the new Empowerment Schools also do well, we'll add more schools to the program in the years to come. The goals of the program are also right in line with reforms we've already made in schools throughout the city that give principals more authority in hiring teachers and assistant principals, and more control over school budgets, too.
"Increasing the number of Empowerment Schools fulfills a promise I made in the State of the City in January. In order to come up with the additional funds that these schools will get, we're trimming $80 million and a net of about 350 jobs from the Department of Education's administrative bureaucracy. And that takes us a big step toward making good on another promise I made in the State of the City: To redirect $200 million away from the education bureaucracy and into the city's classrooms.
"In the future, we expect to find additional savings in such areas as food service and school building maintenance - and invest that money where it belongs: In classroom education for our children.
"Launching this expanded Empowerment Schools initiative truly represents the next stage of our school reforms. Those reforms began four years ago this month, when State government granted the City authority over the public schools and made us accountable for producing results. Authority and accountability have been key to all the progress we've made since then. As a result, today, the schools are safer, parents and students have more choice, student test scores are up and we're closing the achievement gap that has existed for too long among students of different racial and ethnic groups. Our schools still have a long way to go - but for the first time in decades, they're headed in the right direction. And now, by expanding our Empowerment Schools initiative, we'll keep our schools moving forward, full steam ahead.
"This is Mayor Mike Bloomberg. Thanks for listening."
Stu Loeser (212) 788-2958