FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
June 29, 2009
MAYOR BLOOMBERG DISCUSSES HOW NEW GAINS IN HIGH SCHOOL GRADUATION RATES SHOW WHY THE STATE LAW THAT'S DRIVING PROGRESS IN PUBLIC SCHOOLS CANNOT BE ALLOWED TO LAPSE THIS WEEK
The following is the text of Mayor Bloomberg's weekly radio address as prepared for delivery on 1010 WINS News Radio for Sunday, June 28, 2009
"Good Morning. This is Mayor Mike Bloomberg.
"Summer is officially here and that means the City's beaches - and its 54 pools - are now open for the season. But before we dive headfirst into summer, I'd first like to offer my congratulations to all of the New York City high school students who graduated last week. Finishing high school is a real achievement and all of our graduates and their families should feel extremely proud. A high school diploma not only opens the door to college and to better jobs and higher wages. It also instills greater self-esteem, which can lead to a lifetime of confidence.
"Last week, as students from the Class of '09 lined up to receive those hard-earned diplomas, we also received some heartening news about our City's graduation rates. According to data released by the State Department of Education, New York City's four-year high school graduation rate has hit an all-time high of nearly 61 percent, while the dropout rate has fallen to a new low of 13.5 percent.
"In real life terms, that means that since 2005, more than 7,800 additional students in New York City have graduated, while 6,200 fewer have dropped out. What's more: students in every racial group have made significant gains over the past four years - but Black and Hispanic students have clearly made the biggest. Their progress continues to narrow the racial achievement gap that has existed in our schools for far too long.
"These latest accomplishments continue an upward trend in graduation rates that began in 2002, after the State first granted the City control over its own schools. It's worth noting that in the decade before that - the 1990s - the City's graduation rate hovered around 50 percent, dropping at times into the high 40s.
"It's painful to look back and realize that our City failed to educate half its students for all those years. But under the old school board structure, everyone had power, yet no one was really in charge. And that's exactly what created the paralysis and dysfunction that used to define our public school system.
"Mayoral control of schools has been fundamental to changing all that. The school governance law passed by the State is what gave us the authority to phase out social promotion, to implement fair funding for all schools, to achieve an agreement on merit-based pay for teachers, to empower our school principals, and to ensure accountability by publishing progress reports for every school.
"Reauthorizing mayoral control is absolutely essential to keeping the momentum going. We cannot afford to let all of the progress we've made in our schools over the past seven years slip through our grasp. And we can't ever return to the days when City schools consistently failed half our students. That was never more clear to me than last week, when I had the pleasure of watching students from the Class of '09 proudly accept their diplomas.
"Congratulations to those students once again. They are the future of our City - and thanks to their hard work, that future has never been brighter.
"This is Mayor Mike Bloomberg. Thanks for listening."
Stu Loeser (212) 788-2958
Listen to the radio address