The nambly pambly ways of Mayor Bloomberg were momentarily forgotten with his manuvering to ensure that promotion guidlines for third graders are based solely on test scores. He replaced three members of an education policy panel who supported looser social promotion rules with members that would vote to hold back third graders who do not meet requirements. Of course, the Mayor's wish for grade promotion based only on test scores has been met with a lot of opposition and the vote is being called unfair; 15,000 students could potentially be held back. But Gothamist has to hand it to the mayor: This has been the ballsiest move Mayor Bloomberg has done in certainly the past year (this side of the tax increase). It shows he's trying to assert his power, like it or not, in a decisive fashion. His "hands-off" approach has been quietly received, except with the Diana Lam nepotism scandal of last week. This is a move reminiscent of Giuliani's grandstanding. Mr. Mayor, nice work.
The Times' Jennifer Steinhauer analyzes the situation, which can be summed up in this Bloomberg quote: "Mayoral control means mayoral control, thank you very much. They are my representatives, and they are going to vote for things that I believe in." City comptroller William Thompson was "shocked": "His last-minute removal of panel members is more suited to a `Sopranos' episode than to enacting education policy for our public school children." The Daily News calls the vote "stacked."
The issue of social promotion is sticky. Gothamist thinks a lone test is a blunt too at best to determine the fate of a child, and agrees that too much emphasis will be placed on this test during the school year at the expense of a third-grade education. However, many students have been promoted without being prepared for what lies ahead and fail. The Mayor's plan is untested and severe, but previous incarnations of the Board of Education have been ill-equipped to address the situation. Is there a happy medium? We hope so.