Jan. 12 (Bloomberg) -- New York will seek to attract and reward “highly effective” teachers, evaluate their performance and create 100 schools, including some that prepare students for technical careers, Mayor Michael Bloomberg said.
Bloomberg, 69, renewed his commitment to improve education today in his annual State of the City speech, a decade after he persuaded the state to abolish the Board of Education and give him control of the biggest U.S. school system.
The mayor delivered the speech at Morris High School in the Bronx, where he said about 75 percent of students graduate within six years, compared with 27 percent a decade ago. Citywide, he said, graduation rates have gone up 40 percent since 2005, versus 8 percent in the state’s other districts.
“All across the city, we face that same challenge -- the challenge of building a 21st century economy and building the 21st century public schools that can drive it,” the mayor said in prepared remarks. “It is the challenge of our time. How well we meet it will define the state of our city for generations.”
The mayor presented the speech at the start of a year in which he faces the challenge of closing a $2 billion gap in the city’s $70 billion budget, and an economic forecast from state Comptroller Thomas DiNapoli that predicts the probable loss of 10,000 finance-industry jobs.
In his speech, he focused on public education, which 10 years ago he singled out as the issue upon which his performance as mayor should be judged. He sketched a two-year strategy he said would build on past achievements, such as higher graduation rates and fewer dropouts.
To encourage the brightest to seek teaching jobs, the city would offer a $25,000 grant to help pay off college-student loans for graduates at the top of their class who commit to work in city schools for a number of years. The city would also give a $20,000 salary boost to teachers rated “highly effective” for two consecutive years, the mayor said.
“The marketplace keeps showing us that we have to be competitive if we’re going to attract the best,” Bloomberg said.
To make the program work, the city would institute an evaluation system that singles out the most effective teachers and also contains tougher standards for tenure.
“We need to be able to identify those ineffective teachers and give them the support they need to grow,” Bloomberg said. “And if that doesn’t work, we need to be able move them out.”
The mayor also vowed to open 100 new schools, including 50 charter schools, by the end of 2013, when his third and final term ends.
One of the new schools, a “Software Engineering Academy” planned for Union Square in Manhattan, would focus on technical education, he said. At least 12 schools focusing on career and technical education would be created, he said.
Bloomberg also pledged to increase access to college loans and scholarships for students most in need, including the children of illegal immigrants.
“We can’t blame them for being brought here as infants or teens,” he said. “Since they are here to stay, it’s in New York City’s best interest to make sure they are able to become productive members of society.”
The mayor is founder and majority owner of Bloomberg News parent Bloomberg LP.
--Editors: Mark Schoifet, Mark Tannenbaum
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