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PR- 319-07
September 4, 2007


Mayor Michael R. Bloomberg and Schools Chancellor Joel I. Klein today welcomed New York City public school students back to school and announced that with the hiring of more than 6,000 new teachers this summer, New York City public schools now boast more certified teachers than any time in the City's history.  The Mayor and the Chancellor were joined by Governor Eliot Spitzer, City Council Speaker Christine C. Quinn, Deputy Mayor for Education and Community Development Dennis M. Walcott, Council of School Supervisors & Administrators President Ernest Logan, and United Federation of Teachers President Randi Weingarten at P.S. 53 in Morisania to detail improvements in City schools made over the last school year and those that can be expected in schools all throughout the City this school year.  P.S. 53, a school that has seen enormous gains in student performance since 2003, will receive an extra $430,000 this year because of the Bloomberg Administration's fair student funding reforms and new policies that remove funds from the bureaucracy and give them to principals to use at their discretion.

"Today, 1.1 million children are going back to school in New York City, and I am proud to report that we have more certified teachers than ever before ready to teach them," said Mayor Bloomberg. "With fair student funding officially under way, we are finally funding our schools the way we should - based on the number of students enrolled- rather than the political considerations that for generations have resulted in inequitable school spending."

"There is no one-size-fits-all approach to raising student achievement. That's why principals now have unprecedented freedom to make smart decisions that will help students learn and progress - and we're holding them accountable for making sure that happens," said Chancellor Klein. "We all understand the importance of quality, certified teachers and the newly-hired ones are excited about making a difference for the students."

"The first day of school is an opportunity to celebrate the great progress our schools have made, and recommit ourselves to moving forward with new bold initiatives," said Speaker Quinn.  "Earlier this month, the Council's Middle School Task Force and DOE announced the appointment of a Director of Middle School Initiatives and the creation of a $5 million fund to bring innovative Task Force proposals to the highest need schools.  This school year, we'll continue working closely with the Mayor,  administrators, parents and other stakeholders to implement even more recommendations and provide students in all grades the education they deserve."

"A lot of hard work has gone into preparing for this school year, and New Yorkers should be proud of the progress being made," said Ernest Logan, President of the Council of School Supervisors & Administrators.  "Amazing things are happening in our schools thanks to the commitment and dedication of administrators, teachers and parents who go above and beyond every day to make a difference in children's lives. With the CSA, the Department of Education and others all working collaboratively and holding each other accountable, our schools are well positioned for the challenges ahead. We are all allies in achievement," 

"We are starting this school year with the strongest teaching force we've had since prior to the fiscal crisis of the mid-70s," said Randi Weingarten, President of the United Federation of Teachers.  "Teachers are ready to work as true partners with principals and parents to help our children succeed under the new structure that shifts decision-making to the schools."

Over the summer, more than 6,000 new teachers were hired from a pool of 44,000 applicants for a net increase (after retirements and attrition) of 1,300 more teachers this year.  These additional teachers will allow the Department of Education to further reduce class sizes.  For every new teacher hired, another six applied to teach in New York City public schools but were not selected.  Ninety of these new teachers will receive housing bonuses for taking hard-to-fill positions in Math, Science and Special Education.

P.S. 53, also known as the Basheer Quism School, has seen increased student performance under strong leadership and an innovative and committed teaching staff. In 2003, just over one-third of its students were performing at or above grade level in math. Today, under Principal Collin Wolfe, more than two-thirds of the students perform at or above grade level. 

Starting this school year, P.S. 53 will benefit from the City's new fair student funding formula for public schools which - for the first time -  will send resources to schools based on the number of students taught there rather than other, extraneous considerations.  As a result of funding equity and additional funds cut from the bureaucracy and redirected to schools, P.S. 53 received $430,000 more in funding than last year. 

Because of the reforms that give principals discretion to use money taken out of the bureaucracy on priorities facing their schools, P.S. 53 is using these funds in part to hire new enrichment teachers, including a music teacher.  By choosing from among three models of school support organizations, each offering a unique package of services, Principals were able to purchase services like curriculum and professional development that meet the specific needs of their schools and students.

This school year, students, educators and others will see more changes including:

  • Forty new schools that opened since last school year, bringing the total to 231 new schools that have opened since 2002,
  • Five new transfer schools among these new schools, which help over-age or under-credited students graduate,
  • Two new charter schools opening this year, bringing the total number of charter schools in New York City to 61,
  • Approximately 3,700 new classroom seats created this year as part of the City's ongoing  $13.1 billion school capital plan, 
  • The first-ever Citywide science curriculum,
  • A revamped Web site which will make information more easily accessible to parents and educators, and
  • More than 70 district family advocates specially trained to help answer parents' questions and resolve problems who are working out of district offices throughout the City.

Starting this year, the City is holding everyone in the system-from the Mayor and Chancellor to every teacher and principal-accountable for ensuring that students succeed.  This fall, every school will be given a letter grade, A to F, on how well they are raising student achievement.  Schools have received "Quality Reviews" by experienced educators that measure how well they are using information to improve student achievement.  Throughout the school year, students will be taking assessments in English Language Arts and Math to help teachers target instruction in areas that need improvement.  The Department of Education will also begin to roll out ARIS - the "Achievement Reporting and Innovation System" which will provide regularly updated information on system-wide student performance.


Stu Loeser/Dawn Walker   (212) 788-2958

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

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