The Education of Mike Bloomberg

Mike has never been much of an ideas guy. Lots of practicality, effective belt-tightening, technological wizardry, but very little ideology from the top, though some of his deputies certainly have strong ideas.

In the Wall Street Journal today, Diane Ravitch, the educational historian and official in the first Bush administration, writes that she wishes he had thought about the whole thing a little more. (Ravitch is usually cast as a conservative, though she’s turned up as an unlikely ally for Randi Weingarten in some of the fights over just how much control the Mayor should have.)

In the clearest critique to emerge from the many quibbles with the mayor’s attempt to turn around the schools, she argues that Mike blundered into what she considers trendy educational gimmickry out of ignorance.

“Neither Mr. Bloomberg nor Mr. Klein knew about the war of ideas that had been raging among educators for many years,” she writes. “Business leaders who want to reform schools should educate themselves about the issues or risk being co-opted by the education establishment. Who would have believed that smart, pragmatic Mike Bloomberg would become a champion of constructivist pedagogy?”