Former New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg has pledged millions of dollars to support public charter schools.
Committing $750 million of his own money, the billionaire wrote in an op-ed Wednesday that public education in America is “broken” and that teacher union officials are “denying reality.”
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“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 wrote in the Wall Street Journal. “This harms students, especially those from low-income families.”
Bloomberg, touting his own record on charter schools as mayor, noted that the pandemic had led to a substantial increase in enrollment at such schools.
“Charters, which generally don’t operate under union contracts, also have more flexibility to manage staffing, curriculum, testing and compensation. This allows them to create a culture of accountability for student progress week to week that many traditional public schools are missing,” he wrote.
“As school failures worsen, children are paying a terrible price for this lack of accountability,” Bloomberg continued. “A union’s job is to represent its members, not to set education policy. They can have input, but schools should focus on the needs of students first, not the employees.”
Bloomberg said his philanthropic organization will launch a “five-year, $750 million effort to create seats [at charter schools] for 150,000 more children in 20 metro areas across the country.”
That money will be used to open new schools as well as “help existing charter schools grow.”
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“We need a new, stronger model of public education that is based on evidence, centered on children, and built around achievement, excellence and accountability for all,” Bloomberg said. “The future of America’s most vulnerable children — and of our country — is riding on whether we can deliver it.”