Yesterday, Bill Thompson wrote on Huffington Post about the need to fire Joel Klein as schools chancellor. In doing so, Thompson continued his criticism of Michael Bloomberg’s handling of public schools.
Specifically, Thompson said he unearthed major flaws in the way administration oversees student accreditation, although no major wrongdoing was found.
In response to Thompson’s HuffPo column, Bloomberg campaign spokesman Howard Wolfson sent me a written response characterizing Thompson as the arbiter of the school’s past failures, and, I think, attempting to shift the conversation from a pure referendum on Bloomberg’s education record to a side-by-side comparison of each official’s education legacy.
Anyway, here’s Wolfson’s full response to Thompson:
Bill Thompson’s recent attacks on Mayor Mike Bloomberg’s education accomplishments make an examination of the Comptroller’s own record that much more important.
In fact voters interested in how a Thompson administration would administer the schools need only look at Mr. Thompson’s record when he ran the City’s Board of Education for clues.
So here are the facts: When Mr. Thompson ran the old Board of Education test scores declined or were flat. Dropout rates went up four points and graduation rates showed little improvement. Pervasive violence in our schools prevented children from learning. Billions in cost overruns were rampant and a shoddy accounting even failed to accurately count the number of students in the system.
Despite this poor record, Mr. Thompson insisted on politics as usual, opposing Mayoral Control and failing to end social promotion. In short, Mr. Thompson had ample opportunity to improve and reform a dysfunctional system, and he failed to do so.
Now contrast Mr. Thompson’s record with Mayor Bloomberg’s. Test scores are at all time highs as New York City students are making greater gains than students in the rest of the state. Graduation rates are up fifteen points. The dropout rate is down almost seven points. Violence is down and schools are safer. And the achievement gap between white students and African-Americans and Latinos is narrowing dramatically on test scores and graduation rates.
The contrast couldn’t be clearer. When Mr. Thompson ran the old Board of Education our schools were failing. Under Mayor Bloomberg schools are turning around and making real progress. And those are the facts.
UPDATE: Thompson’s director of communications, Carly Lindauer, replies:
“The Bloomberg machine has taken a page out of the Karl Rove play book – distorting the past, inflating numbers, and dismissing legitimate criticisms from elected officials, parents, educators and advocates. The fact is that Republican Mike Bloomberg’s failures are real and documented. Mike Bloomberg and his Chancellor have padded graduation numbers, cut parents out of the loop, spent hundreds of millions of dollars on no-bid contracts, and spent more time teaching to the test than preparing our students for the future. It’s time for real reforms that benefit our children, not political rhetoric.”