For decades, conservatives have rightly griped about the state of the American public education system, which has moved from a focus on the basics of education toward indoctrination and political correctness.
But when a well-known outspoken leftist joins the chorus of complaints about public schools — and shows he’s willing to put his money where his mouth is — people start to take notice.
And that’s just what happened this week with former New York City Mayor Mike Bloomberg.
The multi-billionaire left-winger explained in a piece for the Wall Street Journal this week the problems he sees in our public schools and why he’s committing $750 million to pay for charter schools.
“American public education is broken,” Bloomberg began, pointing out the failure of schools to re-open during the pandemic, even when there was no reason for them to remain closed, and that many of those schools blew it when it came to remote learning.
He then noted that even before the COVID shutdown, “about two-thirds of U.S. students weren’t reading at grade level, and the trend has been getting worse.”
And teachers union people “are denying reality,” according to Bloomberg.
He cited the head of the L.A. teachers union, Cecily Myart-Cruz, who looked at school closures during the pandemic and declared, “There is no such thing as learning loss” and “Our kids didn’t lose anything. It’s OK that our babies may not have learned all their times tables. They learned resilience.”
Bloomberg had one word to describe her claims: “nonsense.”
“How about reading, writing and arithmetic, the critical skills we are funding schools to teach?” he asked.
“Instead of giving students the skills they need to succeed in college or in a trade, the public education system is handing them diplomas that say more about their attendance record than their academic achievement,” Bloomberg continued.
America is “moving backward” in the education challenge, he said, so we need “the courage to rebuild public education from the bottom up.”
If not, he said, “we will continue to doom our most vulnerable to a life of poverty and, in too many cases, incarceration.”
What does work? Charter schools, the former mayor said.
“Success Academy’s network of 47 public charter schools is serving New York children whose families predominantly live below the poverty line,” he wrote. “Their students are outperforming public-school students in Scarsdale, N.Y.—the wealthiest town on the East Coast and the second-wealthiest town in America—by significant margins. Yet a statewide cap on charter schools is blocking Success Academy from expanding.”
Then he explained why charters are more successful: They aren’t stuck with union contracts and “have more flexibility to manage staffing, curriculum, testing and compensation,” which creates “culture of accountability for student progress week to week that many traditional public schools are missing.”
So, what is he doing about it? Creating more opportunity for students.
“Today there are long waiting lists for charter schools across the country, but mayors and governors aren’t getting the support they need from Congress and the White House to open new charter schools,” Bloomberg wrote. “To begin meeting the demand for charters, Bloomberg Philanthropies is launching a five-year, $750 million effort to create seats for 150,000 more children in 20 metro areas across the country.”
He closed by noting that the “future of America’s most vulnerable children — and our country” are riding on his efforts being successful.