July 22, 2011
Being able to move forward with plans to close and co-locate schools isn’t enough for Mayor Michael Bloomberg — he said this morning that the UFT and NAACP should feel ashamed for trying to stop the changes.
Bloomberg used his weekly appearance on “The John Gambling Show” to celebrate yesterday’s late-night decision by Judge Paul Feinman to allow the city to move ahead with 22 school closures and 15 charter school co-locations. The UFT and NAACP sued in May to stop the closure and co-locations.
“There are thousands of families whose children have been in limbo because of this lawsuit, and now we can give them a clear direction. This is a big victory for the kids, and I think those that brought the suit should be ashamed of themselves. There’s no other way to phrase it,” Bloomberg said.
UFT officials bristled at the suggestion, saying that the lawsuit — which will now move into a new phase — was meant to address inequities introduced by Bloomberg’s school policies.
“If there is any shame in this matter, it belongs to the mayor and the administration that sat back and made no attempt to help schools and students that were struggling, an administration that favored charter schools while it ignored the needs of public school students,” UFT President Michael Mulgrew said in a statement.
The radio show’s segment on education began this way:
Gambling: A judge ruling yesterday, against the UFT and the NAACP …
Bloomberg: No, no, I would rephrase that. A judge ruling for the kids.
Gambling: This was on the closing of the 22 really bad schools.
Bloomberg: Close isn’t what we do. It’s retaking these schools, and over a number of years changing the management, the teachers, the programs, in schools that aren’t working. One of these schools, I think they had a three percent proficiency rating in English and nine percent in math. And the suit wanted to keep that school open. This is just so ridiculous.
Later in the show, Bloomberg described the difference between this year and last year, when a UFT-NAACP suit challenging school closure plans was successful. He said,
The law says that you have to go through a process, last time we lost the battle because the law said, Oh, you didn’t do it exactly right, you know, we used it with blue ink rather than black ink or something in the application, it was something, basically trivial stuff like that. This time we took a lot more care, we dotted every I, we crossed every T, they still sued us, and the court said enough.
And Bloomberg on school improvements:
The schools are dramatically better. Someone wrote something the other day, I just wanted to tear my hair out. ‘Oh, all the improvements were illusionary, it was just lying with the numbers.’ No. The state, for whatever reason, the Regents, changed the definition of what they call proficiency. I don’t think we should have proficiency standards, because even Nobel Prize winners go back to school and keep studying. There’s no level where you should say, that’s enough.