About Claire McMahon

"Knowledge indeed is a desirable, a lovely possession." Thomas Jefferson
NY Mayor Bill DeBlasio takes the oath of office from former President Bill Clinton

Former President Bill Clinton issues the Oath of Office to new NY Mayor Bill deBlasio while deBlasio’s family looks on

The new Mayor of New York City, Bill deBlasio has only been in office since January first and already people within New York City Public Schools have become hopeful. Mayor Bloomberg’s long reign is finally over. This is a mayor that has quickly made promises that he will be different from his predecessor; something that has teachers breathing a sigh of relief. Something that was blatantly evident during the recent snow day. Snow days are so rare for the city that snow days make the news. Students mostly live in the same neighborhood of their school; however, teachers frequently live further away. A commute that can be tough in the snow, something Bloomberg overlooked.

New Chancellor:
Carmen Fariña has been named as the new chancellor. For the first time in a long time New York City has a former teacher and superintendent running the school system. This is a big relief considering the former expectations were that the country’s largest school system should be run like a business. All signs point to deBlasio expecting the schools to be schools. Farina is a big proponent of bilingual education. Over the years the number of bilingual and dual language programs has shrunk. Farina has spoken as if she will be pushing to open more of these programs. This will bode very will for our English learners, as studies show that students that improve their literacy skills in their first language score higher on standardized exams. She has also spoken of bringing the arts and social studies back into the schools. Somethings that have been missed since testing has become the priority. There definitely seems to be hope for better things to come.

Charter Schools:
DeBlasio cannot prevent the opening of more charter schools, as much as he may indicate that he would like to. He has not shown to be a fan of the charter schools in New York. There has shown to be demand for charter schools and therefore little chance of them leaving any time soon. However, deBlasio does want to make true on his promise of charging the charter schools rent for using space in public schools. Often, public schools and charter schools share space in one building. This often makes scheduling difficult, among other things. Parents and teachers complain of inequalities, such as the charter school getting brand new computers and the public school doing without; it becomes a case of the haves and the have nots. DeBlasio seems to want to make public schools his number one priority above any other school. He has real incentive since his son is currently attending a public high school.

Testing:
While testing cannot be eliminated all together due to federal and state law, deBlasio can sway how local measure tests are given and how the scores are used. If you are not aware, students are supposed to show growth at the local and the state level according to Danielson. The local measure in New York City consists of tests given periodically at all the grade levels(including kindergarten!). Bloomberg placed a large emphasis on test scores, there is hope that this new mayor can steer the Department of Education away from this emphasis and back on track towards more meaningful teaching with much less test prep.

School Closings and Report Cards:
As for right now, deBlasio wants to hold off closing schools that are failing according to the school report card system that Bloomberg put into place. Closing failing schools was Bloomberg’s way to get rid of tenured teachers. They were never fired entirely, but placed into no-man’s land with the ability to look for a job in the system. DeBlasio has also promised to get rid of the report card system. It will be interesting to see if he makes good on this promise.

Overall, parents, teachers, and students can breath a sigh of relief that there is hope for a better future under this mayor. The public school system will no longer be seen as a business, but instead as a place for knowledge. Fingers crossed that these promises made become a reality.

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