Good For Mike

It is good to see the mayor of New York take such a strong stand against social promotion. The details are here:

There are three things that Mayor Michael R. Bloomberg rarely does: publicly denounce his adversaries, dabble in raw politics, or fire people. But last night capped a weeklong binge in which Mr. Bloomberg embraced the sort of hardball tactics that New York City mayors have depended on for decades in seeking dramatic changes to the status quo.

Facing almost certain defeat in his effort to end automatic promotion for third graders, Mr. Bloomberg resorted to firing two of his hand-picked appointees to an educational advisory board to ensure that a new policy preventing the promotion of failing third graders passed.

The battle to end the practice of promoting children, whether they are ready or not, a procedure also known as social promotion, was one that Mr. Bloomberg was in no way willing to lose. The mayor sought control of the schools through state legislation the year he took office, and has made improving the schools the centerpiece of his administration. Just last week, he made clear that he would tolerate no distractions from his goals and called for the resignation of the deputy chancellor who had become shrouded in an ethics scandal.

Yesterday’s situation underscored both the power and the peril of mayoral control. The issues facing the schools are so complicated, it is almost impossible to get a roomful of people to accept major changes, at least not without bruising debates.

Rather than having to persuade people that they should see things his way, Mr. Bloomberg now has the authority to make changes almost unilaterally, and so it was yesterday that he chose a tactic that was more Donald Trump in his television boardroom than Mayor Bloomberg in his City Hall office: “You’re fired!”

Last night, as the board took its vote, Mr. Bloomberg addressed reporters outside a celebration for the Irish Echo. “Mayoral control means mayoral control, thank you very much,” Mr. Bloomberg said. “They are my representatives, and they are going to vote for things that I believe in.”

The events played out swiftly. In the middle of the day yesterday, when it became clear that two of the mayor’s seven appointees to an education policy panel were not going to vote for the social promotion policy, Mr. Bloomberg had a deputy mayor, Dennis Walcott, call both of them — Ramona Hernandez and Susana Torruella Leval — and tell them that their services would no longer be needed.

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Erick Erickson

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