Truth meter of Bloomberg's education campaign claims at zero

The NY Times revealed today that Mayor Bloomberg has spent $65 million so far on his re-election campaign-- on his way to spend around $120 million, which would break all records, including his own. In contrast, his opponent Bill Thompson has spent less than $4 million. Bloomberg has spent $22 million on TV ads, and $10 million on mailings -- including at least five copious large postcards filling the mailboxes of every New Yorker, trumpeting his achievements in the field of public education. Let's a take a careful look at these claims.

Claim: Reading Scores UP 27.5 percentage points.

the most reliable assessments, the federal exams known as the NAEPs, show no improvement in reading scores since the Bloomberg/Klein policies were put in place. Meanwhile, the state tests have become so easy over time that a student can pass simply by random guessing.

Claim: School Crime DOWN 44%.

Reports from the Public Advocate's office and an audit from the Comptroller's office find the practice of underreporting of school crime in NYC schools is widespread. Because of the unreliability of such statistics, the DOE does not even incorporate this data into their school grading system.

Claim: Dropout rates DOWN 6.5 percentage points.

While graduation rates are up, so are the number of students discharged from our schools without diplomas, but not counted as dropouts. More than 21 percent of NYC students were discharged from high schools without graduating in 2007, the latest year we have data, and the those discharged in their first year of high school has doubled, for unexplained reasons. The higher the discharge rate, the higher the graduation rate, since all these students are removed from the cohort, as explained in this report.

It has also become easier for students to graduate from high school without completing their course work or attending classes through the discredited practice of credit recovery, in which they can gain credits for courses that they would ordinarily have failed by attending a few weekend sessions or doing an independent project.

Claim: Cut $350 million from the bureaucracy and put it in the classroom.

This is one of the most repeated claims of this administration, with no independent evidence to back it up. In 2003, the DOE claimed cuts to the bureaucracy of $250 million, mostly from dissolving the school districts, but the Independent Budget Office and the City Comptroller found little evidence of these savings, nor how such funds had been redirected. See also NY Times, “On How Much City Schools Cut Bureaucracy, a Rebuttal”, and NY Daily News, “Ed Dept. savings called shell game.”

What has happened since then? The claim of $250 million in savings has now mysteriously been inflated to $350 million, while the cost of over-paid consultants and educrats at Tweed has grown, as have the no-bid contracts, with more than $340 million awarded by DOE between FY 2005 and FY 2008 alone.

This NY Times analysis shows that over the course of the Bloomberg’s reign, the number of administrators, data coaches, school secretaries, and other out-of-classroom positions has increased by an astonishing 10,000, while the number of classroom teachers has fallen by more than 1600 . Those employees making over $100,000 has quadrupled – even after adjusting for inflation. Joel Klein has said he would like to continue this damaging trend of disinvesting in the classroom by further shrinking the number of teachers by 30 percent.
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