FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
September 2, 2012
MAYOR BLOOMBERG DISCUSSES LATEST EFFORTS TO IMPROVE STUDENT ATTENDANCE AND HEALTHY EATING IN ADVANCE OF FIRST DAY OF SCHOOL IN WEEKLY RADIO ADDRESS
The following is the text of Mayor Michael R. Bloomberg's weekly radio address as prepared for delivery on 1010 WINS News Radio for Sunday, September 2, 2012.
“Good Morning. This is Mayor Mike Bloomberg.
“This Thursday is the big day for our public school students: the beginning of a brand-new school year. And there’s plenty to cheer about. Graduation rates are up nearly 41 percent since 2005, compared to just under 9 percent in the rest of the State, and more kids are graduating ready for success in college and the working world. We still have a lot of work to do in our schools, but there’s no doubt they’re heading in the right direction.
“More than ever, our schools are providing a foundation for good health, too. This year, Whole Foods Market is donating permanent salad bars full of fresh fruits and vegetables to 57 city schools – adding to the more than 1,000 salad bars we’ve already installed. Our goal is that by 2015, every public school will have one. They’re a big part of our efforts to fight childhood obesity. And we’re making progress; over the last five years, childhood obesity declined more than 5 percent in New York City, even as it rose across the country.
“Still, too many students are missing out on the great things happening in our schools because of too many absences. And that puts them at a huge disadvantage. Studies show that students who miss more than 20 days of school in a year are much less likely to graduate, and much more likely to have later problems, like substance abuse and criminal activity. That’s why, in 2010, we launched a major, multi-agency Truancy Task Force to help these at-risk students stay on track. We started a pilot program at 25 public schools, and expanded it to 50 last year. And it’s been extremely effective. Students in the program receive mentors who work with them one on one; and last year, those students attended almost 12,000 days of school more than chronically absent students without mentors. We also reached more than 30,000 students with our Wake Up! NYC automated phone-calls, with celebrity voices reminding students and parents about the importance of everyday attendance. Overall, at the fifty public schools participating in these and other programs, the proportion of chronically absent students fell dramatically.
“This year, we’re doubling the number of participating schools, from 50 to 100, and spreading truancy-fighting resources to schools throughout the city. We’re also adding new efforts. For instance, starting next week, advertisements on five million MetroCards will alert parents to the dangers of truancy and to resources they can turn to for help. We’re also expanding the popular wake-up call service to include familiar voices like John Legend, Yankees greats, and even yours truly.
“Speaking of familiar voices, this weekend marks a special milestone for a legendary New York City reporter all WINS listeners know: Stan Brooks. He’s been bringing New Yorkers breaking news over the WINS airwaves for 50 years, since Labor Day, 1962. He’s a familiar face at City Hall, a trusted source for millions of New Yorkers, and one of the best in the business. Congratulations, Stan. I’m proud to join in saluting you, and to wish you all the best in your next 50 years.
“This is Mayor Mike Bloomberg. Thanks for listening.”
Marc La Vorgna (212) 788-2958
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