30 Issues Day 26: Bill Thompson on Education

Monday, October 26, 2009

It's one week and one day to the mayoral election, and education continues to be one of the key issues. Democratic candidate and former city school's chief Bill Thompson discusses his education record and proposals.


Bill Thompson

Comments [31]

M Petrovic from Queens

I agree with the comment that parents are primary teachers of values to their children. Still some children may be from troubled families and are not fortunate enough to get the love and guidance at home.
The issue of difficult behavior is far more delicate and is beyond standardized testing and formal education. In families that care to teach values, parents are called boring, old fashioned. The school environment should encourage positive behavior and moderation what is often unlikely in our public schools. I also do not understand why our schools are not ready to learn from better and more successful school systems abroad. Despite of the effort at home, children may still choose what they see and hear from their friends in school over what is being said at home. I find it difficult to teach my 11 year old the values of hard work, commitment and respect over what he may hear and see in school and in the community.

Oct. 27 2009 11:48 AM
Marty from Bronx

What the system needs is inclusive accountability, rather than merely teacher accountability. Did any of you know that schools are made up of more than just teachers? Parents need to do their jobs, by teaching their kids values, respect for their elders, dignity and compassion. Because these are lacking, kids are completely out of control: students and staff are subject to violence and crime, as well as verbal abuse, at the hand of the significant numbers of depraved students. And, of course, these incidents are covered up, because it's politically incorrect, and considered racist, to say anything critical of the poor job, even by American standards, being done by inner city families, in the raising of their children. Until people are honest about the real reason these schools are failing, you'll continue to see that, in spite of supposedly improved exam scores, and graduation rates, DOE grads will fail to be successful at the college level.

Oct. 26 2009 11:58 PM
M Petrovic from Queens

Parents feedback is necessary to gauge the effectiveness of learning and development in public schools. I hope that schools are willing to listen more to our feedback. My son attends a well rated school in Queens. The teaching programs are more around test prep than general learning and developing of creative/critical thinking and motivation for learning. I do not see much beefit of the programs that came out of "no child left behind" What will be done to balance the curriculum in a better way than we have today. I would also like to share that I am also a big opponent of video games; I think child development is being seriously affected; It does not seem that there is moderation with such games; children are getting easily addicted to them; their social skills are getting poorer ...and their interests and conversations are mainly around video games. WHere is it going after all. I hope that your station would convey to Bill Thompson's team and other guests -- Officials from the Board of Ed heard on the radio this morning. Thank you very much. Best regards.

Oct. 26 2009 10:59 AM
Sarah from White Plains

Bloomberg has spent millions of taxpayer dollars on management consultants and MBAs (and a law professor at Columbia with no K-12 experience) to develop "accountability measures" such as the school-by-school report cards that are widely viewed by NYC educators and parents as a joke. Tens of thousands of dollars in principal and teacher bonuses have been distributed on the basis of these deeply flawed "accountability measures"

Despite the PR hype and the million-dollar price tag, Bloomberg's "accountability measures" don't even measure accountability for all teachers and principals; charter school principals are exempt, and teachers in pre-K, K, 1st and 2nd grades are free from scrutiny. Not surprisingly, principals are now rushing to run charter schools and primary teachers want to leave 3rd, 4th, and 5th grades to teach the lower grades. The cost to measure accountability for all principals and all grades would be astronomical.

The recession has demonstrated that MBAs know little about how to run financial institutions, let alone educational institutions. In this economic climate, how can Bloomberg justify spending millions in the education budget on pricey pet projects for MBAs? Isn't it time for Bloomberg to admit that his "accountability measures" are a failure?

Oct. 26 2009 10:56 AM
Jane from Brooklyn

Don't take me wrong, Mr. Thompson, but Soviet top to bottom system produced a very good education for its pupils. I know, I grew up there. There was a universal curriculum with variations for local history etc, but math and science were taught in a manner that made people think and analyze vs. US system, where these subjects are being taught to fit any current trend or tests that teachers have to subject children to.

Oct. 26 2009 10:48 AM
ethan from long island

the woman that called was correct. as a former educator in nyc, i was aware that PRINCIPALS were changing grades, etc, etc. this is so endemic, that what surprises me is that no one takes it seriously1 -not even you Brian. the fact is that there is no acountability of what each principal does in his/her school -
i would divide the system in school districts that are independent with a traditional leadership structure

Oct. 26 2009 10:43 AM
David from NYC

Why is there a decrease in the number of School Aids in order to meet budget goals? Are there no other means a School Principal can meet that goal. Why balance budget by cuts in suportive lower pay staff.

Oct. 26 2009 10:41 AM
Peter from astoria

Increasingly, the national rhetoric is that we need new generation of quality teachers.

Can you explain hiring freeze?
Who will lift it?

Oct. 26 2009 10:38 AM
Michael D. Markowitz, P.E. from NYC

Just listened to the Thompson and Cerf segments.

Thompson focused on meaningful testing, meaningful data, and overcrowding. Nuts and bolts.

Cerf focused on teacher quality, technology. Smoke and mirrors. The "Standards Movement" has nada to do with skewing the break points in the tests and School Progress Report Grades! Is the new standard: "Everyone gets an A" until election day?

Cerf talking about reducing class size under Bloomberg and Klein? Bloomberg reduced overcrowding? And up is down! Where's the fact-checking on this hooey?

Oct. 26 2009 10:37 AM
Josh from Brooklyn

To use Koch as an example against corruption is laughable. Doesn't anyone remember bess Myerson? Koch "paid off" every crony and machine political boss her could find. Patronage scandal grew like trees. When Donald manes was about to go down for corruption he committed suicide. In return for stuffing the ballot box for Koch, he was awarded with control over the parking violations bureau, and got caught with kick-backs.

Oct. 26 2009 10:29 AM
Ava from Brooklyn

As per the response to the caller's question about the Fellows program earlier, the program is not suspended. NYCTF is currently accepting applications for a June 2010 cohort. There is still a great need for teachers in Special Education and other high-need subject areas in NYC - alternate route programs like NYCTF are here to fill that need with excellent teachers.

Oct. 26 2009 10:27 AM
Teresa from New York

thompson is making a great case for NOT electing him mayor. his answers are vague, particularly given that he was president of the board of ed years ago. his response to changing the NYC public school curriculum- teaching reading, writing, phys ed???? who is this man trying to fool?

Oct. 26 2009 10:25 AM
Mary from Queens

What is Thompson's position on students carrying cell phones to school?

Oct. 26 2009 10:23 AM
mbk from nyc

Thompson cannot get specific. Brian-thank you for TRYING to get something specific out of him, but I have not really heard much yet. Election day is fast approaching and he IS NOT READY!!!

Oct. 26 2009 10:23 AM
john from office

Is he for then a lack of standards, did he have to mention George Bush??, the Classic fall guy for a poor candidate

Oct. 26 2009 10:21 AM
john from office

Dinkins all over again

Oct. 26 2009 10:20 AM
john from office

I graduated from the public school system. The schools under Bloomberg are vastly imporved. A vote for this man is a vote for the past.

Oct. 26 2009 10:18 AM
Michael D. Markowitz, P.E. from NYC

Given the rampant manipulation of facts and data by the Bloomberg administration (from overcrowding to student performance to school progress), how will Bloomberg -- if re-elected -- possibly come clean?

Or... will our kids have to suffer four more years of spin over substance?

Keep it spinning, New York.

Eight is more than enough. And when it comes to class sizes, so is TWENTY-eight. Or more.

Oct. 26 2009 10:17 AM
Nick from NYC

It seems true that through a succession of mayors, we still every year hear about classrooms with no textbooks, crowding, etc.

Can your guest commit to making sure that no classroom in NYC will lack books, basic supplies, and decent seating? If we can't fix those things, how can we hope to fix anything more complicated?


By the way, I'm not a parent, but, how students are educated in NYC affects all New Yorkers - we should all care deeply.

Oct. 26 2009 10:16 AM
Douglas from Forest Hills & Manhattan

For the next four years:

What is his administration's plans for keeping the schools safe, specifically with the issues surrounding the use of metal detectors and armed police, children bringing guns, knives, and other weapons in schools, AND very importantly, after school programs for children/teens as well as the use of art, music, and science programs for outlets as well as activities for school children.

Oct. 26 2009 10:16 AM
john from office

A vote for this man is a vote for the past, higher crime, corruption and an insecure city. A return to the poverty pimps, as Ed Koch called this group of so-called leaders.

Oct. 26 2009 10:13 AM
Josh from Brooklyn

I'd like to make a couple of comments. First, the President of the Board of Ed (any pres. not just "Bill", under the old system, had little oversight over school construction. School construction in NYC is under a completely separate agency (retarded, I know). They control money and allocation. Second, test scores. They went up every year under Bill. Bloomberg's numbers are fudged. For instance, Between 1999-2003, the Bill years, scores for 4th grade math rose 20%. However from 2003-2007 (2003 tests were given under the old BOE, not mayor control) under Mike the score rose only 3.5%. But Mike takes credit for the BOE tests to inflate his numbers. Also the BOE test was under the Fed standards, much tougher then the state tests Mike uses for his #'s.

Less than 40% of schools got an A grade last year. This year, 84% did. Huh? How did this happen? Standands were dumbed-down. 3 schools set to close last year for poor performance got A's this year. In fact every school that got an F, got an A or B this year. isn't anyone minding the store here? Oh, bloomberg won't let anyone else question his methods.

One last thing, My mom used to teach in the Bronx in the 70's, not exactly the beacon of accomplishment. However, regardless of "data", she is horrorfied with Mike's dictatorship over the schools and lack of accountability. She herself is a product of NYC public schools, but never thought such dishonesty could happen like with Mike

Oct. 26 2009 10:08 AM
sherri semon from Manhattan

The DOE's Contracts for Excellence promised that our public schools' class sizes will be reduced to 20 children in K-3, and 23 in 4-8, by year 2011. This years' preliminary statistics show that overcrowding in the schools is very high, and record number of classrooms are EVEN above UFT limits. (K:25, 1-3:28, 4-6:32) Many schools cannot hit class size targets becasue they have run out of physical rooms in the building! Other schools cannot afford to reduce class sizes because of budget cuts and they are unable to afford the teacher's salaries. WHAT IS YOUR PLAN TO ALLEVIATE OVERCROWING IN NYC SCHOOLS. Thank you.

Oct. 26 2009 09:54 AM
Ann Kjellberg from Manhattan

I'd like to hear more about Thompson's role in creating the Chancellor's Districts under Rudy Crew. I have heard that historians regard this initiative as a success, but the extra funding directed to schools in distressed neighborhoods under this program have been threatened with cuts by Bloomberg's Fair Student Funding initiative, and its successful curricular innovations have been dismantled.

Oct. 26 2009 09:48 AM
Cynthia from Manhattan

There is a rumor circulating among principals in NYC schools that in November, soon after the elections, there will be a significant cut in the schools' budgets for the current academic year. Such a cut, of course, would necessitate further cuts in classroom teachers, other staff members, and school programs.

Could you please ask the candidates, or their representatives, to comment upon the likelihood of these cuts and to pledge not to make any mid-year cuts?

Oct. 26 2009 09:15 AM
Leslie from Manhattan

I'm troubled when I hear Mayor Bloomberg take credit for improvements in city schools. The quantitative measurements that Bloomberg and Klein depend upon obscure the fact that some children don't count at all. Poor and minority children have always been failed educationally. What the public may not be aware of is the failure of the DOE to meet minimal standards in educating children with special needs. Under Federal statutes, there is an obligation to provide students with a 'free and appropriate education'. It is uncommon to find students who receive all the accomodations they require so that they may learn. Without necessary services, such as physical therapy, some students stay in the system for years, becoming increasingly hopeless.There have even been students who go months without a school or educational services of any kind. It's scandalous when children are thrown away. Bloomberg and Klein and the Committee on Special Education need to be held accountable.

Oct. 26 2009 03:29 AM
Ricardo from nyc

It is deplorable that Thompson and Giuliani allowed test scores to decline while the coffers of the city were brimming during the 90's; equally deplorable is that Bloomberg and Klein have allowed our schools to become unbearably overcrowded during a period of economic and population growth.

Oct. 25 2009 11:04 PM
karen from nyc

Michael Powell's NY Times portrait of Bill Thompson as Board of Education president only hints at his true legacy: school overcrowding. "Failing to monitor spending on construction of new schools, adding and dropping projects on political whim, allowing nearly $2 billion in cost overruns," these ineptitudes of nearly ten years ago have resulted in New York City public school children being squeezed into buildings that are too small to accommodate them. Under Mayor Bloomberg, planning to redress this problem remains woefully inadequate. Both mayoral candidates recently stated that it takes ten to 15 years to produce schools "provided" in a five-year capital plan. Yet another capital plan comes up for vote next month, and neither candidate has addressed how they will solve the immediate crisis of severely inadequate classroom space for city school children. As both candidates tout their education records, they are failing to meet public school children's most basic needs.

Oct. 25 2009 08:32 PM
Laura Josepehr from NYC

School overcrowding must be Issue #1. I am a parent of a child at PS 11 in Chelsea in Manhattan. We are already overcrowded, with a crowded middle school on top of our school that the DOE promised to move in 2010. Now the DOE is trying to back away from that promise (
and both school's children are going to lose.
Our school already was asked to give up it's library and music room. Next will be our computer and art rooms. When will it end?! NYC can't keep band-aiding the overcrowding issue. More families are staying and more keep moving in. Planning must begin now for new school construction funding (ideally from new construction) or the effect on our children will be devastating.

Oct. 25 2009 06:59 PM
Carmen Maldonado-Santos from South Bronx

I want to ask Mr. William "Bill" Thompson if he is elected Mayor will the parents have a voice in Education? I feel that parents have been excluded from many things including the school leadership teams because Principals do not care what parents have to say, How will Mr. Thompson fix this if he is elected? The Open Door Policy in our children's school has been non existant for a long time but no one comes to the Bronx to investigate and when they do come a show is staged and the same goes on.

Oct. 25 2009 10:23 AM
Joel Moss from Brooklyn, NY

The increase in test scores in NYC is an impossibility. No one can show such fantastic gains in this short amount of time,yet the Bloomberg administration has spent millions of dollars for bonuses for administrators,teachers and school children based solely on these phony test scores. How can we justify this expense in the time of severe a budget crisis?

Oct. 24 2009 07:11 PM

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