2003-01-23 / View From the Middle

View From

The MiddleThe Aristocrat Might Have Some Good Ideas After All
By Charles Rogers

The Middle
The Aristocrat Might Have Some Good Ideas After All


Now don’t get me wrong. I still don’t like the guy. Mainly because of his style, rather than his substance.

Of course, you can’t argue with me if I admit that substance is what counts — and style be damned if there are positive outcomes.

We’re talking about Mayor Michael Bloomberg, whose arrogance really gripes me. Get this quote when he was talking about people who are unhappy with the new rate hikes being imposed by cable-TV companies: "You can read a book. You don’t have to watch television."

Sounds just like another aristocrat at another time, when Marie Antoinette said,"Let them eat cake," dis-playing for all to see the attitude of the French royalty and their disdain for the common man, sparking the French Revolution.

I guess this mayor’s dispassionate attempt to run the city as a member of royalty (or Chief Executive Officer) do pay off, however, in some cases, the first being his new plan for making New York’s schools come up to what they should be.

Bloomberg unveiled his plan last week and, yes, I can’t deny that it certainly is promising.

First of all, as any top management official is wont to do, he gets rid of the things in his company that appear to have brought it down — in this case, school boards and the mire of bureaucracy. It was refreshing to hear him say, right off the bat, that high schools and elementary schools (middle too) should be beholden to one of ten regional headquarters. I can’t understand why this hadn’t been done before. (I have to admit, it will make things easier for members of the press, who constantly had to go from one point to another when researching a story — heaven forbid if the story had to do with both elementary and secondary schools!).

Another part of his plan will standardize the curriculum at 1,000 out of 1,200 schools, allowing the top 200 schools to, essentially, run themselves (Some-thing here puzzles me, however. If those schools are doing so well — why not find out why — and then copy their plan!). Yet another section says students in early grades should be required to have 135 minutes of reading and 60 minutes of math every day. Bravo! It might be nice to throw in a little bit of required geography and history but, hey, let’s not look a gift horse in the mouth.

The new plan would replace the school districts with 10 regional "instructional divisions" in charge of education and six support centers in charge of administration. That’s the ticket! Put some importance on educating and take that bureaucratic stuff out of the hands of educators and into the hands of, essentially, office managers.

There were a few other plans Bloomberg put forth, not the least of which would be a "parenting center," which would be open at appropriate times for parents to talk with and work together with teachers. Frankly, that’s a good idea that I don’t think would work. If your child has a distinct problem, that’s one thing, but when you have a disinterested student, you probably have a disinterested parent — who wouldn’t attend the parenting center anyway.

Back to Bloomberg: A recent poll noted that there are a lot of people who don’t like him and, for my previously-stated reasons, count me among them. He reminds me of the poor little rich kid who wants so much to be liked (although he won’t admit it).

Hey, we know the guy’s not running a popularity contest. Frankly, I wish him luck. It ain’t easy at the top. While running around his ivory tower he might be coming up with some good ideas, which should be implemented.

And if they work, he can be KING OF THE WORLD!


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