New York

Dennis Walcott Speech Pans Democratic Mayoral Candidates Over Proposed Education Reforms

New York City Schools Chancellor Dennis Walcott criticized democratic mayoral candidates Saturday, telling a crowd of educators and school administrators that their proposed policies would be catastrophic for students, The New York Times reports.

Walcott’s speech at Brooklyn Technical High School took issue with democratic candidates' claims that they would reverse Mayor Michael Bloomberg-era education reforms, according to the outlet.

Bloomberg’s notable education strategies have included the closing of low-performing community schools, the expansion of charter schools and an emphasis on high stakes testing. At a meeting with the United Federation of Teachers earlier this month, the five democratic candidates and one independent candidate expressed dissatisfaction with these strategies, the Wall Street Journal notes.

Walcott, who has been chancellor since April 2011, criticized the candidates for their interest in halting school closures, according to the Associated Press.

“Many of the candidates want the Department of Education to halt its policy of replacing failing schools with successful and innovative new schools,” Walcott told the crowd, the New York Daily News reports. “They would have us consign the students who attend them to an awful status quo, and send their students into the world without the benefit of a good education.”

He also accused the candidates of catering to teacher's unions.

"What these promises have in common is that they would hurt our children in the service of political interests and I find that disgraceful," Walcott said, according to New York One.

City Comptroller and mayoral candidate John Liu was not pleased with Walcott's speech and questioned his motivations.

“It would seem that our schools chancellor would have a lot on his plate other than delivering political speeches … Why be so defensive when you’re so sure that everything is perfect?” Liu told the New York Daily News.

The New York Times defended the democratic mayoral candidates in a Sunday editorial, noting that after 12 years of Bloomberg's policies it may be time for a change.

“They have begun laying out ideas. Mayor Bloomberg and his aides are upset that the visions aren’t his. But they should not deny that alternate visions could exist, or the possibility that they could be better than the one we have,” the editorial read.

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