Last month, Michael Bloomberg announced his philanthropy would be providing $750 million to spur the creation of public charter schools across the country. As mayor of New York City from 2002 through 2014, Bloomberg set the city’s public school system on a trajectory that dramatically improved educational outcomes for those students and communities least well served by public schools. He inherited a school system that was centrally managed by career educators and famously resistant to innovation and change in the face of long-standing failure, evidenced most clearly by its 50 percent graduation rate.
By the time Bloomberg left office, the high school graduation rate had reached 70 percent. The improvement did not happen because the city found a way to magically fix long-failing high schools; rather, it put in place an aggressive program to phase out the lowest-performing schools and replace them with new high schools. Those schools were designed and implemented by teams of innovative educators, community advocates, and service providers from the city’s large non-profit sector. The city not only created new schools within the public school system itself but also strongly supported the creation of charter schools.
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