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Friday, October 05, 2012
An August poll showed that nearly three-quarters of New Yorkers regretted giving Mayor Bloomberg a third term in office. Sixty-five percent said they wouldn't vote for him again. But what's not clear is why. His job approval in that same poll was nearly 50 percent. A lot of people are worried about the economy, but they mostly don't blame the mayor for the slump. More people think the standard of living has improved under his leadership than don't. His police commissioner gets high marks. Voters even give him the thumbs up on public health.
Education, however, is the one major policy area where a clear majority of New Yorkers are unhappy with the mayor. It's been that way for some time now. So is this the culprit? Let's take a look.
When we look side-by-side at 11 years worth of Bloomberg's job performance and education policy approval ratings, it's hard to say how much his handling of schools affects his overall popularity. But the two polls did begin to rise and fall together -- coincidentally or not -- early into his third and final term, and have been more or less in correlation since:
As we can see, approval for Bloomberg's education policies bottomed out in the middle of last year and stayed low afterward. Many will blame the severe drop on one disastrous decision: the hiring of Hearst Chairwoman Cathie Black as chancellor. That move on November 11, 2010, and the outcry that followed, certainly marked the beginning of a steep decline for Bloomberg continuing through to Black's firing on April 7, 2011.
It's important to note though that Bloomberg's overall approval rating had been losing ground steadily since his re-election in 2009, and that the politically disastrous blizzard of 2010 also came just six weeks after Black was hired. Bloomberg's popularity as a third term mayor obviously suffered from both missteps.
There is also another likely contributor to Bloomberg's lowly schools numbers: he has spent too much time in office. His education policies were once seen as, at worst, an attempt to shake up an unacceptable status quo in the school system. But, a decade later, now his policies are the status quo--and clearly the status quo is still unacceptable to many. At last count New Yorkers disapproved 2-to-1.
Some will say that it is simply third term malaise. But, despite the correlation during the last two years or so between his job approval and support (or lack there of) for his education policies, the mayor's overall popularity is nearly back to the midpoint between his all-time best and his all-time worst polls. Meanwhile, his education numbers have been hovering for more than a year now around their historical lows.
Perhaps Bloomberg and his crew should have listened to Harvey Dent in The Dark Knight (released around the time of the mayor's decision to run for a third term in 2008) when he said, "You either die a hero, or you live long enough to see yourself become the villain." In any case, when it comes to schools, in the view of New Yorkers, Bloomberg should have quit while he was ahead.
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Leonie Haimson commented on 06-Oct-2012 11:05 AMYou can see the sharp decline in his education approval ratings happened sometime between July 2009 and Nov 2010. In the summer of 2010 is when the state test score inflation bubble burst, with the state finally admitting what observers had long figured out on their own: the the rising test scores in NYC were a illusory, and achievement levels had not improved.
Anonymous commented on 07-Oct-2012 09:03 PMJust goes to show you: "You can fool some of the people some of the time. You fool all of the people some of the time. But you can't fool all of the people all of the time."
Did I say that? Actually, I think it was a Republican president whose real leadership held a troubled country together through its worst time. It certainly wasn't said by a bully mayor who bought his office and has always confused the "bully pulpit" with just being a rich "bully."
lawrence zajac commented on 12-Oct-2012 06:38 PMWe are seeing students that have "benefitted" from the Mayor's educational policies entered into high schools and many of them do not have the necessary skill sets to succeed. We are seeing NYC high school grads not able to hack college. The diploma has been devalued and social promotion has been silenced, but is still ever present. Visual and performing arts programs for the larger student population have been gutted. Bloomberg has bet a great deal of our money to take us to this state and I am afraid he may yet double down on his recklessness.
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