ST. LOUIS - New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg, looking every bit a presidential candidate despite his repeated denials, strode onto Democratic turf yesterday when he told attendees at the Urban League's national convention that America is failing its minority school children...
..."If we want to truly improve the education our children receive and fulfill the promise of the civil rights movement, we have to stand up and tell them 'no more,'" Bloomberg said. "No more pandering to the special interests, no more fear of tough issues and no more excuses for failure."
His comments came before a civil rights group whose inside-the-system style has stressed job opportunity and social service since it was formed in 1911.
Urban League president Marc Morial said he welcomed Bloomberg's willingness to use his big-city mayorship to spotlight urban issues."I'm just happy he has decided to take a national posture on important issues," said Morial, a former New Orleans mayor...
More from the New York Times:
[Bloomberg's] half-hour speech that urged national leaders to follow the methods he used to improve New York City’s public schools, like increasing teacher salaries, issuing grades for schools and instituting a corporate-style system of accountability.
“The federal government should commit to a significant increase in new federal funding, including for higher teacher salaries, but cities and states could only receive it if they began implementing the reforms I’ve outlined today,” the mayor said...
The mayor pitched the plan as a crucial step in alleviating racial inequality. “We can stop talking about closing the achievement gap between races and actually have them catch up,” the mayor said. “We can stop talking about the equal opportunity of the civil rights movement and actually make it a reality.”
The speech was, by many accounts, a hit. Mr. Bloomberg closed with a charge — “Let’s get to work” — and stepped offstage to a standing ovation as well-wishers lined up by his chair.
Christopher Washington, 41, a university administrator who directs the Urban League affiliate in Columbus, Ohio, said afterward that he agreed with the mayor’s message.
“We need to pay more for good teachers,” he said, adding that increasing incentives for teachers to improve performance “makes sense, and it goes against conventional wisdom.”
Some school reform advocates think this is the speech they wish Democratic presidential hopefuls could muster the courage to give. But courage is typically drowned by political calculus.
For example, Whitney Tilson's School Reform blog screams, "STOP THE PRESSES!!!! This is a must-read!"
This speech by Mayor Bloomberg is absolutely brilliant and spot on. The fact that he's a Democrat (regardless of what he officially calls himself) serves to further underscore how utterly lame the Democratic presidential contenders' speeches were to the NEA a couple of weeks ago. Oh, how I long for the day when one of them has the guts -- and wisdom -- to give a speech on education like this one!
You're probably scratching your head, saying: "What do you mean by wisdom? Wouldn't it be political suicide for any Democrat to say even 10% of this to the NEA?"