Earlier this afternoon, four of the five top-tier mayoral candidates stood on the steps of City Hall to criticize recent school closures. City Comptroller John Liu, former Comptroller Bill Thompson, Manhattan Borough President Scott Stringer, and Public Advocate Bill de Blasio took to the stand to criticize Mayor Michael Bloomberg’s education policies.
The four candidates applauded and supported one another as they spoke, and their messages were largely similar. They all generally indicated the Bloomberg’s administration enjoys closing schools or fails to appreciate the significance of such actions.
“To too many people over at Tweed building, closing schools is a panacea. They think it’ll solve our problems, to close a school” Mr. de Blasio said. “They think it’s a cure-all, but in fact it misses the point.”
“It’s almost gotten to the point where the number of school closures is almost seen as a sign of success or progress,” Mr. Liu stated. “What we’re calling on the Department of Education to do today, is to show us the results. Show the public where the displaced students are going, after their schools — many of which have long, storied histories in New York Cities — have gone.”
“The Department of Education and this administration seem to believe that the goal is to close schools, under the guise of closing failing schools. … Closing a school should be a last resort, not a first resort. And it’s not a badge of success,” Mr. Thompson said. “Stop this dangerous shell game with our children. Stop shuffling them around. “
Mr. Stringer didn’t directly suggest school closures were a point of pride for the Bloomberg administration, but he did say the Department of Education was taking “the easy way out” with the closures. “It’s very easy to close a school, it doesn’t take real leadership or a whole lot of smarts, you just put a padlock on the door and you throw away the history … of the community,” he said. “It’s a lot harder, and a lot more difficult, to actually create a school that works. We have challenging schools, but we also need a DOE to meet that challenge. And for too long, school closing has been the easy way out.”
Ms. Quinn was the only top-tier mayoral contender not at the event, but a Quinn representative there handed out fliers to the press with her statement on the matter. The press release emphasized the fact that “11 of the 25 schools on the closure list this year are small schools that have opened since 2005.”
Watch the press conference below: