Magazine article The American Prospect

A Big Apple for the Mayor. (Networks)

Magazine article The American Prospect

A Big Apple for the Mayor. (Networks)

Article excerpt

HERE'S A MOTLEY CREW THAT HELPED bring an urgent issue to a boiling point: Russell Simmons of Def Jam Records, the Hip-Hop Action Network, the Alliance for Quality Education, the United Federation of Teachers, L.L. Cool J, Chuck D., and Alicia Keys. A few weeks ago this coalition of community activists and celebs rallied a crowd of tens of thousands outside City Hall in Manhattan to address the mismanagement of--and dearth of funding for--New York City's faltering schools.

The Big Apple's struggle for "ed reform" has entangled the mayor's office, the Board of Education, the governor, the state legislature, activists, and unions in endless arguments and led to diminishing educational results. With 1.1 million pupils and a $12 billion budget, the New York City educational system is the nation's largest. Combine that with a dropout rate of greater than 30 percent and a recent study that discovered that 20 percent of the youngest students can barely read and what you have is one of the nation's largest educational failures--or, depending on where you're sitting, a politician's dream.

"If you want to take on things that everybody says are impossible, but that everybody says we desperately need, that's the great challenge," said Mayor Michael Bloomberg at a June news conference. …

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