Post Bloomberg Education Policy

0 Comment

Basil Smikle Basil A. Smikle Jr. is a political strategist and PhD student in Politics and Education at Teachers College, Columbia University; He holds Adjunct appointments at Columbia’s Graduate School of International and Public Affairs and the City University of New York’s School of Professional Studies. 



This November, voters in New York City head to the polls to determine who, among six Democrats and three Republicans, will replace Michael Bloomberg as Mayor.  All else being equal, any Democrat should defeat the Republican nominee.  But this year’s campaign has provided surprisingly little information about how the next Mayor may address education policy.

During his first term, Mayor Bloomberg won control of New York City’s vast school system, a feat his predecessors in the prior 30 years were unable to accomplish.  Sweeping reforms have been the subject of much scholarly research and debate.   Bloomberg and his Chancellor Joel Klein received accolades from President Obama, Education Secretary Arne Duncan and mayors around the country.   His detractors, many of whom are grassroots activists, organized labor, and parent coalitions, railed against the lack of access to policy makers, reductions in community-based agenda items, and an over- emphasis on charter schools and school closures to address the achievement gap.

New York City’s next Mayor will reevaluate the integration of public/private partnerships that were instrumental to fiscal health and educational innovation during the Bloomberg years. Candidates have proposed policies that will slow or eliminate the growth of charter schools – a significant blow to the choice movement here and across the country.   Furthermore, parent and community voices will fight for a place at the table when important decisions like school closures, co-location and other key policies are debated.

Important questions arise when considering changes to policy that could accompany a new mayor. Under what political conditions is mayoral control sustainable and successful?  In a post-Bloomberg New York, for what policies will new coalitions advocate and how effective will they be at agenda setting?  Similarly, what might be the national ramifications in an era where changes in leadership will bring about executives with less political independence than their predecessors?


Mayoral Control of Schools


Mayors of major urban municipalities have rejected the reputation of cities like New York, Chicago, Baltimore, and Cleveland as intractable on issues like crime and education.   Reform-minded executives have sought to reduce fragmentation, gain control of budgets, curriculum and hiring. Typically, diverse communities with large disadvantaged populations where lack of accountability, poor fiscal status and low student performance dominate the headlines have sought mayoral control legislation (McGlynn, 2010)[1]. A movement from elected school boards to systems, in which mayors have greater control over resources and appointments, eliminates discussion of who should run the schools and shifts the debate to how they should be run (Center for American Progress, 2013)[2].

The efficacy of mayoral control is hotly debated.  Mayors like Bloomberg are labeled overly business-minded and technocratic in his approach with too much emphasis on test scores.[3]  Others balk at steep reductions in community input. Scholar Diane Ravitch, a frequent Bloomberg critic, points to the lack of public forum and elimination of checks and balances in New York City (Ravitch, 2011)[4].   Critics also argue that new education regimes in a Common Core environment that stress accountability and test scores tend to rely on models of marketization and privatization to the exclusion of parents, community groups and unions (Recklow, 2008)[5].

Supporters of mayoral control tout the success stories: Closing of the achievement gap, higher test scores and graduations rates, improved accountability structures and control of the budgets, the creation of new schools and closing of underperforming institutions.   Changes affecting the supply of schools and the diminution of interest- group influence (Chubb and Moe, 1990; Moe, 2011)[6] [7] were preferred to inflexible and ineffective models of governance.

The success or failure of mayoral control as an effective long-term alternative will depend largely on the tautness of coalitions that participated in its inception and implementation.  Endemic to mayoral control regimes is the tension between coalitions of working class residents and disadvantaged constituencies that seek substantive changes, those who choose to exit the system for better opportunities, and those whose loyalty to place, community and local institutions builds leads them to reject widespread reform initiated by external players.


New York City’s Education Mayor

Bloomberg, like his predecessor, is a “new mayor” (Kirst and Edelstein, 2006)[8]Kirst, M. W., & Edelstein, F. (2006). The maturing mayoral role in education. Harvard educational review, 76(2), 152-164. who rejects old political pathways and patronage in favor of meritocratic hiring practices and a management style based on private sector principles.  Like his predecessor Rudy Giuliani and peers like Newark Mayor Corey Booker and Chicago’s Rahm Emanuel, developmental rather than redistributive policy imperatives (Peterson, 1981)[9] were heavily utilized in an effort to strengthen the economic framework of the City.   Bloomberg promoted commercial and residential real estate development that capitalized upon historically low crime rates to lure more businesses and high-income residents to the City. Some New Yorkers bristled at his refusal to adhere to traditional paths of political influence since his personal wealth obviated reliance on coalition-building activities.

Bloomberg vowed to gain control of the unwieldy and dysfunctional education system.  Varying degrees of racial, labor, and intergovernmental politics thwarted the efforts of previous mayors for the past 30 years.  But by the time Bloomberg was elected to office, graft and unmet goals for student performance reached a tipping point.

The former school governance configuration consisting of a 7-member central board and 32 separate school boards was a vestige of Progressive Era politics meant to democratize management of a system increasingly populated by minority and poor children. New York City Mayors in the latter part of the 20th century began to question the efficacy of an anachronistic structure that now serviced over 1 million children.  Each of the 32 school boards became fiefdoms where political favors were de rigueur.  Community leaders used school board elections as platforms for personal political ambition.

Negotiations during the early days of Bloomberg’s first term were delicate.  Support for mayoral control can pit corporate developmental interests against community based advocates (Shen, 2011)[10].  But Bloomberg deftly bargained with New York State Assembly Democrats to restore funding to the Department of Education, which had been cut severely under Giuliani subsequently gaining favor with the teachers and activists.  In return for passage of Mayoral control in 2002, the Mayor promised teachers raises that ranged from 16-22%.  The Republican controlled State Senate approved the measure and control over education policy was on the fast track for passage. (Goodnough 2002[11], McGlynn 2010[12]).

Once control was granted by the State legislature, Joel Klein, a former corporate lawyer and Department of Justice attorney in the Clinton Administration, was named Chancellor and acted quickly.  He disbanded the old school boards in favor of administrative districts and created broad structural reforms built on Leadership, Empowerment and Accountability[13] collectively referred to as the Children First initiative.  These changes, enacted over several phases, built system capacity across substantive areas from governance and management, teaching and learning, human capital development and high school reform[14].  Among the initial changes, Bloomberg and Klein:

  • Abolished the 32 school boards and replaced the central 7-member governing Board with a 13-member Panel for Education Policy (PEP).  The Mayor would appoint 8 members of the panel.  5 Members would be appointed by each of the 5 democratically elected borough presidents, and the Mayor could appoint the head of the school system.
  • Created autonomy zones and slowly gave principals throughout the City power over their own budgets and curriculum within parameters
  • Instituted parent coordinators throughout the system
  • Created an office of family engagement
  • Created a leadership academy that trained principals – many of them with little or no classroom experience – and provided avenues for support for existing school leaders
  • Established Center for Charter Excellence to provide support to new and existing charter schools


Scholars categorized this package of reforms as a portfolio management model – PMM (Bulkley, Henig, et al. 2010)[15].  According to the framework, system-wide accountability and performance standards overlay school-based differentiation strategies.  Individual schools assume greater budgetary and curriculum discretion (Henig, 2010)[16].  The PMM provides a mix of options to parents, with an emphasis on choice, new contracting models, small schools and new schools created in part from schools closed for low performance.  Initial reviews were equivocal but optimistic.

In time, parents grew increasingly concerned about lack of access.  An early lawsuit initiated by the United Federation of Teachers (UFT) and joined by the NAACP accused the DOE and Klein of racial discrimination in the firing of paraprofessionals.  Within two years, the media started to take notice of growing instability among the coalitions that supported mayoral control after a 2004 incident when Bloomberg dismissed three PEP appointees over their refusal to support an end to social promotion – the practice of passing students through grades to benefit their social and psychological well being despite lack of proficiency.

Escalating concerns from activists notwithstanding, labor unions and communities of color propelled the Mayor to victory in his 2005 reelection bid.  Against a prominent Latino Democrat, Fernando Ferrer, 47% of black voters and 38% of Latino voters supported Bloomberg.  Bloomberg’s roughly 20-point margin of victory was the most for a Republican in New York City ever.  Ferrer, received the fewest Democratic votes of any party nominee since 1917.  Democrats had now lost 4 straight elections[17].  That Bloomberg spent over $85 million was disconcerting to good government groups but voters, who were trending more moderate and conservative, were skittish of a return to old-style patronage politics.

New attitudes among voters were transforming city politics and the policies from City Hall.  “The election outcome … suggested that Mr. Bloomberg and his Republican predecessor, Mr. Giuliani, have set a standard by showing that voters across party lines want a commanding and independent-minded mayor who shows measurable results on crime, education and quality of life.” (New York Times, 2005)[18]  The large margin of victory and unprecedented support from minority communities validated reform efforts despite needling from community groups.

By 2008, the Mayor and his allies began a yearlong campaign to renew mayoral control.  The stakes were high and Bloomberg’s opponents found a highly favorable environment in the state legislature. David Paterson, an African American Democrat from Harlem was Governor.  The Assembly remained overwhelmingly Democratic and for the first time in six decades, the State Senate had a Democratic majority as well.

Three major lobbying interests emerged. LearnNY, heavily funded by the Gates Foundation, was the Administration’s coalition of community-based organizations that sought to extend control with some concessions to community groups toward more transparency within the PEP.  As evidence, LearnNY sited impressive statistics: A 28-point climb since 2002 in eighth-graders achieving passing marks – to 57%; A 22-point rise over the same period in the number of passing fourth-graders to 69%; and strong showings by black and Hispanic students, who caught up to white peers by 4 and 5 points.

The Campaign for Better Schools pushed to create better checks and balances that would amend, rather than abolish, mayoral control.  The Parents Commission, comprised of grassroots organizations and middle income parents that were primarily engaged in child-centered progressive education, wanted to restore the 32 school districts and return to community-based decentralization (Henig, Orr 2010)[19].  But the media, and business leaders – particularly those that funded charter schools – were behind renewal with few significant changes.  A New York Daily News editorial from May 2009 chastised the UFT by describing their advocacy for changes in mayoral control as a thinly veiled attempt at gutting it.

Bloomberg later faced blistering criticism after a maneuver that extended term limits from two to three terms. To his critics, this was a power grab of epic proportions, underscored by the over $108 million he would eventually spend on his campaign for reelection –nearly $300 million of his own money on 3 successive campaigns for Mayor.  To voters, and now many in the media, Bloomberg appeared elitist and unsympathetic.

Despite the 10 to 1 spending advantage, Bloomberg narrowly defeated Democrat William Thompson by 4 percentage points. By now, the combined anger toward the Mayor over term limits and ongoing criticism that Bloomberg/Klein tactics  were reducing community voice, led to some defections.  Ravitch who once supported Bloomberg’s initial strategies eventually categorized them as “destructive policies that have torn apart the city’s school system without offering any clear vision for its future” (Ravitch, 2011).[20]



2013 Campaign for Mayor


The City boasts a six-to-one Democratic advantage over Republicans but a Democrat has not been elected Mayor in 20 years.  The next steward of City Hall will have executive power over a $70 billion dollar budget; He or She will manage over 250,000 municipal workers and educate over 1.1 million public school children.  Union contracts pending negotiation could cost the city $7.8 billion.

General dispassion for the current candidates through most of this cycle has wafted over voters and much of the political class.  Largely missing from the campaign season is an overall narrative that motivates voters to the polls. This was not always the case.

  • The late Ed Koch became mayor in 1977 vowing to bring the City back from near bankruptcy.  Consider the now-famous headline “Ford to City: Drop Dead (New York Daily News 10/29/1975).  The closing months of his third term were marked with scandal and racial strife.
  • David N. Dinkins, beat Koch in a 1989 primary and went on to win the mayoralty by espousing and image of the city as a “gorgeous mosaic” – akin to Jesse Jackson’s Rainbow Coalition.  High crime rates for much of his tenure, a race riot in Brooklyn and a rebellious police department marked the end of  Dinkins’  term in office.
  • Rudy Giuliani branded himself as the law and order mayor that could tame New York.  Giuliani ushered in a tidal wave of real estate development to lure a tax base and tourist dollars to New York.  Grappling  with quality of life crimes vexed activists who used those and other policing policies as evidence of his disdain for communities of color and the poor.
  • Bloomberg campaigned to get NYC back on track after 9/11 and over-haul  schools.  The Democrat-turned-Republican campaigned to be the business-friendly education mayor whose Administration would be free of petty politics.


Today, 10 candidates – 6 Democrats, 3 Republicans and 1 Independent – vie to replace Bloomberg.  Of the 6 Democrats, Speaker of the New York City Council Christine Quinn has been leading in most of the polls, though her lead has dropped precipitously from a high of 37% to roughly 18% as of the latest poll. To avoid a run-off for citywide office, a candidate needs 40% of the vote. The Speaker has strong authority over legislation and the budget, which presents unique challenges for individuals who hold that office and want to be Mayor.  She is roundly criticized for being too closely allied with Bloomberg on budgetary and policy matters.

William Thompson, the City’s former Comptroller who narrowly lost to Bloomberg in 2009, has consistently polled in second or third place.  As the only African American candidate in a majority-minority city, some presume his lock on African American votes will propel him into a runoff. But minority voters are no longer a monolithic block vote.  Thompson received high-profile endorsement including the UFT and Council of School Supervisors & Administrators (CSA), representing principals., a prominent education blog reported that Thompson has long courted Bloomberg education allies including Meryl Tisch – a huge supporter of charter schools and the wealthy Chair of the New York State Board of Regents, which oversees State education policy.

Former Congressman Anthony Weiner infused the race with a nationally criticized scandal that is being followed by constant calls for his resignation from the race.  His frontrunner status in early polling has been reduced to third or forth place in current surveys.

Public Advocate Bill DeBlasio and Comptroller John Liu, remained clustered at the bottom of most polls for some time though DeBlasio has made up significant ground after well-timed positive articles in the New York Times and recent press on his advocacy against hospital closures.  He has positioned himself as the anti-Bloomberg and was the favorite to win overwhelming labor support though union endorsements have been almost evenly dispersed among all Democrats running for the seat.

Comptroller John Liu, a popular Asian American candidate, offers positions that sharply contrast with the Mayor’s on key issues like stop-and-frisk and education/choice policies.  Liu is often excoriated by the media for the fundraising indiscretions of his campaign staff, which have garnered federal indictments and the conviction of his chief fundraiser.  Though Liu was never formally charged, much of the political class hypothesizes some connection. Recently Liu was denied matching funds in the City’s very generous campaign finance system.  Despite the controversies, his hard charging campaign has endeared him to some voters, Democratic clubs and unions that moved to support him, including the union representing most city workers, DC 37 -AFSCME.

Republicans Joe Lhota and John Catsimatidis are running for their party’s nomination.  Lhota was a well-qualified manager of city resources.  He held several positions in the Giuliani Administration including Commissioner of Finance, Director of the Office of Management and Budget and Deputy Mayor of Operations.  Lhota was most recently appointed by Democratic Governor Andrew Cuomo as Chair of the massive Metropolitan Transpiration Authority overseeing a budget of $11 billion.  Lhota, like Giuliani, is a Republican operating in a blue city and reliably blue state and who would maintain much of the Bloomberg agenda.  He opposes any weakening of mayoral control and advocates for more funding for teacher training, more charter schools and longer school days.

Catsimatidis was active in the Democratic Party and a long-time contributor to their candidates, including Bill and Hillary Clinton, before running as a Republican this cycle.  His ownership of several real estate interests and supermarkets made him a billionaire, though not with the same stature as Bloomberg. Lhota is likely to emerge from the primary to challenge the Democratic victor.  Other candidates are former Bronx Borough President and Obama appointee, Adolfo Carrion, a smart and capable leader in the Latino Community running as an Independent; Democrat Sal Albanese, a former City Council Member; and George McDonald, a Republican who founded a well-regarded organization to combat homelessness called the Doe Fund.


What to look for in Education Policy


The next mayor is unlikely to be a policy entrepreneur in the way Bloomberg was an “education mayor”. The lack of overall campaign narrative has muddled any vision for education policy other than a perfunctory rejection of certain Bloomberg-era reforms. Perhaps the quiet is a sign of caution.  One PEP member suggested that Bloomberg, over 12 years, built a “substantial house around the education system” and if too much is done too soon, “kids will be the collateral damage.”  On the other hand, lack of specifics could signal an abrogation of Bloomberg reforms toward more populist policies aimed at appeasing grassroots.  Based on the backgrounds, endorsements and statements of each candidate, there are four potential changes in education policy worth consideration.

First, the next mayor could reduce the role businesses and philanthropies have in the governing regime, and forego many public/private partnership opportunities in education policy.  Regimes are a network of typically wealthy or well-connected individuals, groups and businesses that support policies outside of formal governance structures (Orr & Johnson, 2008) [21].  The inclusion of venture philanthropists, foundations, developers and major cultural leaders, provided needed support for mayoral policies but “[challenge] long-held notions about the allocation of power within school systems…especially the role of parents, teachers [and] schools” (Scott, 2009).[22]  This may reduce charges of privatization in the short term but hinder innovation in the long term.

David Banks, President and CEO of the Eagle Academy Foundation and founding Principal of the Eagle Academy of the Bronx has cultivated relationships with Bloomberg and the private sector to grow four more schools in Brooklyn, Queens, Manhattan and Newark, New Jersey.  Each school boasts a near 100% graduate rate.  The Bronx Eagle Academy recently hosted a Mayoral forum focused on education in a state of the art building which Banks said was the result of a “strong working relationship between the principal, community leaders, business leaders, City and State government.”

Thompson, Quinn and Lhota would be best at managing such relationships given their former and current roles in government but Thompson’s, relationship with the UFT and support from interest groups may put him in the most precarious position when finding balance between formal governance, community inclusion and the formation of sustainable outside partnerships. Debbie Meyer, a parent advocate living in Harlem has long been concerned about the influence of the private sector on reforms however and is leery of the stability of their commitment relative to those who deal with education issues daily.  She suggests that without “replicable and sustainable” results across the system, reform efforts will likely end up being experimental rather then supportable over the long term.”

Public/private partnerships, when used appropriately over time, can produce lasting economic benefit.   Former Atlanta Mayor Maynard Jackson, who served three nonconsecutive terms from the mid 1970s to the mid 1990s, was quite successful in expanding urban regimes to support education reform and significantly expand the Black middle class (Henig, 2001)[23].   Pressure to improve agenda-setting opportunities by and for previously marginalized constituencies may slow implementation of policies that provide innovators opportunities to promote new ideas across the system and that may  lay the groundwork for enhanced regime participation.

The second potential policy change involves school choice.  The tension around involving charter schools over the last twelve years has created political cleavages that comprise the bulk of opposition to Bloomberg-era school reforms.  The UFT and NAACP have joined forces to articulate a power and perception shift in education governance that “increases reliance on private modes of service delivery” (Henig, 2010)[24].  They believe co-location is discriminatory and promotes re-segregation within neighborhoods and within school buildings.  Charter supporters take issue with this characterization asserting that the Administration is merely giving small innovative public schools unused or underutilized space within existing buildings.

Liu and DeBlasio have called for charters to pay for space (through taxes, fees or rent) or plan to issue a moratorium on colocation – all of which would vastly reduce the number of viable charters.  This seems punitive. More than 900 public schools, 58% of the entire system, are co-located and of those, only 8% are charter schools[25].

James Merriman Director of the NYC Center for Charter Excellence is concerned about the chilling effect but expresses doubt that much of the rhetoric would be actualized. Real estate costs are steep and ”in New York where real estate is both blood sport and life blood, without co-located space, we’d have an anemic … charter school movement.”     “We should be worried … [but] I don’t think we should be panicked,”[26]

The collective action against charter schools seems disproportionate to the size of the population in question.  Only 47,000 children out of 1.1 million students are enrolled in 136 charters schools.  That amounts to 4% of all students in New York City at 8% of its schools.[27]   But the concerns have deep roots in the communities of color where most are located.   An older generation of activists, whose advocacy was fomented during the fight for civil rights, shaped much of the modern thinking about how to teach poor and minority children. The tension around charters therefore, while documented as a fight between Bloomberg and communities of color, is a proxy for racial, generational and class-based conflict.

Consider that in New York City, the charter school student population is 60% African American, and 33% Latino.  Harlem/Upper Manhattan, part of Charlie Rangel’s Congressional District, is home to 28 (of 136) such schools.  In the ten years between 2000 and 2010, census figures show that the white population increased 28%, African American and Latino populations decreased by 14% and 8% respectively though the district is still majority Latino.  Median income increased 45% to over $37,000 and the median home priced doubled.  The number of individuals with a Bachelors degree or higher jumped 67%. Gentrifiers are less loyal to existing political institutions and present opportunities for governance regimes to recruit them as local partners. The new Mayor must mitigate the tension between affluent and enewly arrived parents who are not particularly loyal to longstanding institutions, and those who embrace a place-specific historic narrative that is more inward-looking and suspicious of outside influences.  The former want more choices in a post-NCLB/Accountability context, and the latter look to an older model that may not be adaptable to an environment that has come to emphasize outcomes over process.

The third relevant contribution to education policy by the next mayor would be to expand opportunities for community, teacher and parent voice, defined as an opportunity for individuals or groups to express dissatisfaction or influence outcomes by engaging in protest against management or governing structures. (Hirshman, 1970)[28].  Bloomberg opponents argue that his management of the Panel for Education Policy (PEP) and indifference to school closures exemplifies haughtiness and high-handed control over the system that greatly reduces pathways from community expression and input.

Mr. Thompson proposed to appoint only 7 members and not 8 to reduce the Mayor’s influence on the panel though this change is more symbolic than conducive to practical reductions in Mayoral autonomy.  The PEP has been accused of being a farce. In fact, attendees at hearings contend PEP decisions are a “done deal” well before any meeting takes place.

The Mayor has opened 656 schools and closed 164 failing schools.  Seventy-eight new schools will open this Fall.  Candidate Bill DeBlasio has called for a moratorium on closings. Others have made similar exhortations.  Both school closures and the PEP are focal points of parent and school-based community action.  The NAACP and UFT previously filed suit to block closures, which ultimately failed.  Here again, and with some consternation from African American leaders, there is concern that these historic and prominent organizations may be promoting their own voices while admonishing parents who simply seek alternatives for their children.

Controversies of school closures and co-location cannot be extricated from parent and community voice arguments.  In fact, they are closely intertwined. While old political machines tied to neighborhoods and political structures may be declining nationally, low-income parents, activists and labor may be forging new alliances (Warren, 2001)[29].  These coalitions are becoming new political machines, distinct from old ones in that they are functional rather than geographic, often issue-based rather than solely aligned by race and class (Lowi, 1967)[30].  The next Mayor’s attempt to augment these efforts to mollify coalitions by reducing the growth of charters or halting closures may prove unsuccessful.

The impact on developmental and redistributive policies in the next Administration will be enormous as the City attempts to reduce unemployment further and excel in growing industries such as the technology sector.  Discussion around the creation of more vocational schools has been revived after falling in disfavor among policymakers over a decade ago.

Ultimately, for whoever wins in November, a clear vision matters most according to Joe Williams of Democrats for Education Reform.  “If you are in charge of the school system you need to be able to say to the parent ‘I want to make sure we are putting more great teachers in the classrooms.”  “I don’t hear anyone talking about great teachers and great schools. I hear them talking about Bloomberg, and it has become irrelevant at this point.” (Epoch Times, 2013)[31]


Policy Implications


            The sustainability of rapid reforms under mayoral control may be forestalled by changes in local and national political leadership.  Even though mayoral control initiatives preceded President Obama’s Race to the Top legislation, reliably blue states received political cover from a hugely popular President when reforms first accelerated.  Democrats seeking to replace Obama may not enjoy the social movement atmosphere that inoculated him from labor’s dissatisfaction.  Unions have a diminished but still significant role in national elections.  The NEA and AFT combined to donate over $18 million almost exclusively to Democrats and Independent Expenditures in 2011/2012.[32]  Republicans will certainly face more resistance.  Democrats broadly have far stronger relationships with unions than Obama did when entering the Presidential race and resulting policy will certainly bend toward special interests.

Locally, Republicans and moderate Democrats face considerably more opposition.  Strong independent Governors and Mayors are few and far between.  Whether they are being pushed out or have moved on, their absence jeopardizes the speed and efficacy of reforms. In New York for example, reform-minded Governor Andrew Cuomo is likely to win another term, but New York City may have had its fill of wealthy independent mayors.  Governor Christie in New Jersey and Newark Mayor Corey Booker both championed reforms.  But Christie is a potential Presidential candidate and Booker is likely to be in the US Senate in 2014 leaving Newark more susceptible to a rollback of innovations.  The Fenty/Rhee experiment in Washington DC came to a crashing halt. Chicago’s teachers union (CTU) may have found enough of a foil in Mayor Emanuel to push for changes in his re-election bid.  There is some room for continuity in governing transitions.  Innovative programs in Texas, Florida and Minnesota that are either red states or have had Republican leadership may not see much change. (Moe, 2011)[33]  In Boston, the candidates seeking to replace retiring Mayor Tom Menino have largely embraced reforms, advocating for increasing the cap on charter schools and providing greater school-based autonomy through principals.

In mayoral control cities, the transition in local and national leadership over the next five years may see leveling off of graduation rates and test scores as districts grapple with balancing new credit-claiming imperatives, implementation of the common core’s more rigorous standards, and electoral interests through formation of governing and political regimes.  In the meantime, emboldened coalitions are finding wedges to motivate voters.  These groups argue that a sense of paternalism promoted by choice leaders, alliances with gentrifiers who are likely to exit the system and the movement of school choice advocates from governing regimes to electoral regimes, disrupts local political and cultural identity to break familiar alliances.  But as special interests seek to maintain their hold on electoral outcomes, notable groups like the UFT and NAACP should not engage in the politics of blocking (Moe, 2011)[34] but rather offer real solutions to the next Mayor.  Accountability and choice have had some positive impact, though perhaps not as pervasively as many had hoped.  The most detrimental obstacle to reform occurs when coalitions steeped in historic significant conflate slowing or eliminating reform efforts with offering proactive policy solutions.




[1] McGlynn, A. J. (2010). Identifying the causes of mayoral control in urban public school systems. Urban Education, 45(5), 661-686.

[2] Top 5 Things to Know About Mayoral Control of Schools.  The Center for American Progress, March 3, 2013

[3] After 12 Years of Bloomberg, Data Reigns in the Schools.  Beth Fertig. July 11, 2013

[4] Ravitch, D. (2011). The death and life of the great American school system: How testing and choice are undermining education. Basic Books.

[5] Reckhow, S. (2013). Follow the Money: How Foundation Dollars Change Public School Politics. Oxford University Press, USA.

[6] Chubb, J. E., & Moe, T. M. (1990). America’s public schools: Choice is a panacea. The Brookings Review, 8(3), 4-12.

[7] Moe, T. M. (2011). Special interest: Teachers unions and America’s public schools. Brookings Institution Press.


[8]Kirst, M. W., & Edelstein, F. (2006). The maturing mayoral role in education. Harvard educational review, 76(2), 152-164.

[9] Peterson, P. E. (1981). City limits. University of Chicago Press.

[10] Shen, F. X. (2011). Community support for mayoral control of urban school districts: A critical reexamination. Education and Urban Society.

[11] Goodnough, Abby New York Times, April 6, 2002

[12] McGlynn, A. J. (2010). Identifying the causes of mayoral control in urban public school systems. Urban Education, 45(5), 661-686.

[13] Taken from the Department of Education website

[14] Hill, P. T. (2011). Leadership and governance in New York City school reform. Education reform in New York City: Ambitious change in the nation’s most complex school system, 17-32.

[15] Bulkley, K. E., Henig, J. R., & Levin, H. M. (2010). Between Public and Private: Politics, Governance, and the New Portfolio Models for Urban School Reform. Harvard Education Press. 8 Story Street First Floor, Cambridge, MA 02138.

[16] Henig, J. R. (2010). Portfolio management models and the political economy of contracting regimes. Between public and private: Politics, governance, and the new portfolio models for urban school reform, 27-52.

[17] Patrick Healy: The 2005 Elections: Mayoral Race; Bloomberg Cruises to Re-election Victory.  New York Times, November 9, 2005

[18] Ibid 11

[19] Henig, J. R., Gold, E., Orr, M., Silander, M., & Simon, E. (2011). Parent and Community Engagement in New York City and the Sustainability Challenge for Urban Education Reform. Education reform in New York City: Ambitious change in the nation’s most complex school system, 33-54.

[20] The New York Review of Books.  The Education of Lord Bloomberg, Diane Ravitch April 11, 2011

[21] Orr, M., & Johnson, V. C. (2008). Power in the City: Clarence Stone and the politics of Inequality. University Press of Kansas.

[22] Scott, J. (2009). The politics of venture philanthropy in charter school policy and advocacy. Educational Policy, 23(1), 106-136.

[23] Henig, J. R., Hula, R. C., Orr, M., & Pedescleaux, D. S. (2001). The color of school reform: Race, politics, and the challenge of urban education. Princeton University Press.

[24] Henig, J. R. (2010). The contemporary context of public engagement: The new political grid. Public engagement for public education, 52-85.

[25] Unequal Shares: The Surprising Facts about Charter Schools and Overcrowding.  New York City Charter Center. October 2011

[26] Charter Advocate say candidates’ rhetoric isn’t cause for panic by Anika Anand.  July 9, 2013

[27] New York City Charter School Center

[28] Hirschman, A. O. (1970). Exit, voice, and loyalty: Responses to decline in firms, organizations, and states (Vol. 25). Harvard university press.

[29] Warren, M. R. (2011). Building a political constituency for urban school reform. Urban Education, 46(3), 484-512.

[30] Lowi, T. (1967). Machine politics—old and new. The Public Interest, 9, 83-92.


[31] Epoch Times.  Mayoral Candidates Lack NYC Schools Vision Says Parent.  By Kristen Meriwether July 10, 2013


[33] Ibid 7

[34] Ibid 7

Leave a Reply