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PR- 440-10
October 21, 2010


Mayor Discusses Importance of Implementing Reforms Like New York City’s Pioneering Merit Pay for Teachers and Principals and Colorado's "Great Teachers and Leaders" Statewide

Mayor Michael R. Bloomberg today visited Colorado to discuss New York City’s education reforms with Denver Schools Superintendent Tom Boasberg, Colorado State Senator Mike Johnston, and Denver Scholarship Foundation Executive Director Cindy Abramson.  The Mayor also toured the Bruce Randolph School in Denver – which has gone from being one of the worst middle schools in Colorado to being a model of achievement. The Mayor, Superintendent and Senator emphasized the importance of implementing groundbreaking reforms – like New York City’s merit pay program and Colorado’s “Great Teachers and Leaders” law – statewide. In late September, New York City outlined an aggressive plan to prepare every student for college and careers during NBC’s “Education Nation” summit.  The plan places “master teachers” and “turnaround teachers” in low-performing schools; puts new technology in the classroom to personalize learning for every child; creates a rating system for granting tenure; and develops new partnerships with the private sector.  Similarly, Colorado’s law promotes effective teaching by establishing new teacher evaluations linked to student growth, and creates opportunities for professional development to be tailored to the needs of individual teachers. Colorado also makes tenure performance-based and requires lay-offs to be determined by a teacher’s effectiveness, not seniority. The “Great Teachers and Leaders” law was enacted with bipartisan support and embraced by a broad coalition of community and business groups, as well as educators.

“Students in the United States are falling through the cracks and struggling to compete in today’s global economy,” said Mayor Bloomberg.  “New York City has made great gains in ensuring that every child who graduates high school is ready to start college or a career.  But unfortunately, our state has not been able to implement large-scale, comprehensive reforms.  The reforms adopted in Colorado are really a model for the Empire State, as well as the entire country.”

“Under Mayor Bloomberg’s leadership, New York City has been an important model for big-city school reform,” said Denver Schools Superintendent Tom Boasberg. “And today was a terrific opportunity to share ideas and continue working together to build on the strong progress we’re seeing in our cities’ schools.”

“We’ve watched the reforms going on in New York City, and we are thrilled to have Mayor Bloomberg here to see the progress we are making in Denver,” said Denver Scholarship Foundation Executive Director Cindy Abramson.  “We believe that all students should receive an excellent education from kindergarten through high school that prepares them for college.  We are standing here at the finish line for seniors, ready to remove the barriers to higher education and help them achieve their college goals.”

The Bruce Randolph School became a model of achievement in Colorado after the district launched a school turnaround and brought in a new principal who had the authority to hire new staff. The school was given time to grow one grade at a time, and – after a vote of its faculty – was freed to operate independent of collective-bargaining rules.  Since then, Randolph has posted growth scores at or above the state average for the past 3 years in both reading and math. Over the last two years, the number of Randolph students proficient in reading has increased by 22 percentage points. And, the Class of 2010 – the first graduating class since the turnaround – had 97 percent of its seniors graduate; many being first-generation high school graduates.

Over the last 8 years, New York City’s 1.1 million students have made progress.  Graduation rates have gone up 16 percentage points, and our African American and Hispanic students have closed the ethnic achievement gap on state tests by 37 percent in reading and 18 percent in math.  To improve on these gains, New York City will now empower teachers to meet the needs of every individual child by fundamentally changing the way teachers teach.  Teachers will now be able to use technology to tailor assignments to students’ learning styles and needs by working with them as individuals, in small teams, or on projects specifically designed for them. The City is also looking to remove an antiquated state law requiring schools to purchase printed textbooks and force students to study subject matter even after they have mastered the material. 

The City’s four-tier tenure rating system now links effective performance in the classroom to lifetime job security. And, the a $36 million Teacher Incentive Fund grant allows the City to direct additional compensation – 30 percent salary bonus for master teachers, and 15 percent for turnaround teachers – to educators who have demonstrated significant gains in student achievement.

New York City is also forming partnerships with businesses, nonprofits and universities so students will have a direct connection to college and careers. With the support of IBM, for example, New York is developing a school that runs from grade 9 through the equivalent of grade 14 where students will receive instruction in the traditional core subjects, while also learning the basics of computer science. All students will have the opportunity to graduate from grade 14 with an Associate’s Degree and possible job placement with IBM.

Mayor Bloomberg will address 1,600 of Denver’s community leaders as the keynote speaker at the Denver Scholarship Foundation’s annual benefit dinner later tonight. Since the Denver Scholarship Foundation was founded in 2006, the number of students who enrolled in college has increased by 52 percent (1,066 in 2006 vs. 1,615 in 2009). More than 3,000 scholarships totaling $7.4 million have been awarded to Denver graduates, and the high school Future Centers have helped 7,200 seniors win more than $60 million in additional scholarships.


Stu Loeser/Jessica Scaperotti   (212) 788-2958

Michael Vaughn (Denver Public Schools)   (720) 423-3707

Dana Smith (Denver Scholarship Foundation)   (720) 413-8979

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