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Poll: New Yorkers Want New City School Policies from Next Mayor

Tuesday, April 24, 2012 - 11:29 PM

6:59 a.m. | Updated A majority of New York City voters disapprove of the way Mayor Michael R. Bloomberg has handled his signature issue, education, and are looking for his successor to take the city schools in a new direction, a NY1-Marist Poll found.

The poll, released late Tuesday, found that 34 percent of voters approve of Mr. Bloomberg's handling of the city’s public schools, 56 percent disapprove and 10 percent are unsure.

It also found that nearly two out of three -- 62 percent -- want the next mayor to move in a new direction, compared with 27 percent who want to see Mr. Bloomberg's policies continued, and 11 percent who are unsure.

“He’s been offered up as ‘the education mayor’ and this becomes a focal point for criticism,” said Dr. Lee M. Miringoff, the director of the Marist College Institute for Public Opinion. “Clearly there is significant dissatisfaction with the school system in New York.”

Dr. Miringoff said he and his team only polled opinions of performance, and not of particular educational policies.

The NY1-Marist ratings are the lowest for Mr. Bloomberg since March 2011, when he was in the midst of the controversy over his appointment of Cathleen P. Black as the city's chancellor.

She was replaced in April 2011 by Dennis M. Walcott, who has seen his approval rating improve slightly since September, when NY1-Marist also asked voters about him. The latest poll found that 34 percent of adults think that Mr. Walcott is doing a good or excellent job, and another 35 percent rated him as fair. Fourteen percent gave him a poor rating, while 17 percent said they were unsure or had never heard of him.

The poll was conducted from April 10 through 17 by land line and cellphone with 671 registered voters throughout the city. The margin of sampling error is plus or minus 4 percentage points.

Broken down by borough, 69 percent of adults in the Bronx, 65 percent in Brooklyn and a combined 60 percent of Queens and Staten Island voters said they looking for changes in the public schools. Manhattan residents were most approving, with 55 percent desiring change.

Asked about the poll results, Stu Loeser, the mayor's spokesman, said in an e-mail message, "Tough decisions to turn around a school system that failed generations of students are rarely popular, which is why before we took responsibility for the city’s public schools, they too often existed largely to support the special interests and the crooked status quo."

A Quinnipiac University poll in February also found dissatisfaction with Mr. Bloomberg's handling of education issues. While voters expressed support for his overall policies by 46 to 44 percent, only 24 percent considered mayoral control of the schools a success, while 57 percent said it was a failure.

The Marist poll also found that besides being critical of the city’s education leadership, New Yorkers are only moderately satisfied with the schools themselves. Only 38 percent of respondents said they approved of their local school’s performance, though 45 percent of those with children in school said they approved of their performance.

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