FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
July 31, 2011
MAYOR BLOOMBERG DISCUSSES NEW PROGRESS IN REFORMING TEACHER TENURE AND PHASING OUT SCHOOLS THAT FAIL OUR KIDS IN WEEKLY RADIO ADDRESS
The following is the text of Mayor Michael R. Bloomberg’s weekly radio address as prepared
“Good Morning. This is Mayor Mike Bloomberg.
“New York City’s children deserve the best. The best teachers. The best principals. The best schools. It’s their greatest shot at graduating high school with the skills they’ll need to compete in tomorrow’s economy and live out their dreams. But for generations, our city’s school system simply failed to deliver – and the people who were supposed to be in charge either pointed fingers or looked the other way.
“Not any more. Since gaining control of our schools, we’ve taken a culture of low expectations and excuses and replaced it with one of high standards and accountability. We’ve made it our priority to attract and retain high-quality teachers for every classroom. Part of this effort has involved reforming the way teachers are approved for tenure, which is a virtual guarantee of lifetime employment. Because for far too long getting tenure was essentially a foregone conclusion. Nearly all teachers – 97% in most years – received tenure whether they had earned it or not.
“But those days are over. By granting teachers tenure based on their excellence in the classroom, student progress, and their contributions to the school community – we’ve made the tenure process meaningful. This year, 58% of eligible teachers were approved for tenure after demonstrating a high level of effectiveness to principals and superintendents.
“And what about those who didn’t get tenure? Most will be given more time to learn, develop, and become more effective – and we’ll do what it takes to help them. You see, we want them to get tenure – because now tenure is exactly what it should be: A distinction that’s earned for great teaching.
“Earlier this month, we won another big victory for students and families: A judge ruled that we could proceed with plans to phase out 22 failing schools, which will allow us to provide their students with better quality options. The data shows that this kind of strategy works well. In many cases, the graduation rates at campuses that have replaced failing high schools have doubled, and are now comparable to, and in some instances far above, the graduation rate in the rest of our school system.
“Concluding that a school is failing and needs to be phased out is not easy for anyone – but accepting the status quo would mean consigning the school’s students to a future of underachievement. That would be unfair – and a total abdication of our responsibility to our children.
“Make no mistake: We refuse to accept the status quo. We refuse to settle for mediocrity. We believe in our students. And we know that with the right support, they can achieve everything they want in life. It won’t happen overnight. But we won’t rest until every child in this city has access to a quality education.
“This is Mayor Mike Bloomberg. Thanks for listening.”
Stu Loeser (212) 788-2958
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