School & District Management

N.Y.C. Mayoral Candidates Eye School Changes

By Robert C. Johnston — October 03, 2001 2 min read
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New York City’s mayoral primary, held last week after a two-week delay because of the World Trade Center attack, produced a clear-cut Republican nominee and set up an Oct. 11 runoff between two Democratic hopefuls.

But Mayor Rudolph W. Giuliani is not out of the picture. He is trying to negotiate a three-month extension of his tenure, a plan two of the candidates accepted last week.

Even as New Yorkers dealt with the uncertainty over Mr. Giuliani and recovery from the Sept. 11 terrorism, they remained focused on education, exit polls found.

Michael R. Bloomberg, a financial-media magnate, was an easy GOP winner in the Sept. 25 balloting. Mr. Bloomberg, who wants to raise teachers’ salaries and abolish the city’s board of education, won 72 percent of the votes, routing former U.S. Rep. Herman Badillo, who gained 28 percent, according to preliminary results.

“We must move forward,” Mr. Bloomberg said in a speech following his win. “The alternative is not acceptable. It just wouldn’t be New York.”

Bronx Borough President Fernando Ferrer gained 36 percent of the votes cast in the Democratic primary. Public Advocate Mark Green took 31 percent. Because neither candidate won the 40 percent necessary to secure the nomination, they will compete in a runoff next week. Mr. Ferrer is vying to become the city’s first Hispanic mayor. He benefited from a high turnout of Hispanic voters—roughly 29 percent, or some 5 percentage points above that of previous elections.

He wants to issue report cards on schools and raise money to train parent leaders. “I understand the transforming power of education. It meant the difference in my life—transporting me from a tough street in the South Bronx and giving me the chance to run for mayor,” Mr. Ferrer said in a postprimary speech.

His rival in the runoff, Mr. Green, has pledged to streamline child-care services and implement prekindergarten for the city’s 3- to 5-year-olds. He also wants to give the mayor direct control of schools.

The New York Council of Supervisors and Administrators, the city principals’ and administrators’ union, has endorsed Mr. Green. The United Federation of Teachers, the local affiliate of the American Federation of Teachers, endorsed Comptroller Alan G. Hevesi, the fourth-place Democratic finisher.

Education at Issue

The outcome of the Nov. 6 general election could help decide some major education issues, such as whether control of the city schools should be wrested from the board of education and given to the mayor. Such a step would require state legislation. Other matters that may hinge on the result include how open the district will be to privatizing school management, the outlook for teacher raises, and the future of Schools Chancellor Harold O. Levy.

Added Robert L. Hughes, the president of New Visions for Public Schools, a local education fund: “There will be necessary shifting in the budget ... but it would be a mistake to cut the schools’ funding as we’ve done in other times of emergency.”

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