Tuesday, January 20, 2009

Bloomberg's Amour Propre

Leave it to Mike Bloomberg to make an MLK celebration all about something even more important-himself. As the NY Daily News reports: "At a breakfast honoring the Rev. Martin Luther King Jr. on the eve of the inauguration of the nation's first black President, Mayor Bloomberg lavished his grandest praise on himself. "We still have a long ways to go, but I'm happy to say I think the clouds are starting to part since the state Legislature granted us control of the school system in 2002," the mayor said, invoking the "clouds of inferiority" that King worried were discouraging black children."

Nothing has ever apparently clouded the perspective of NY's mayor-our own ray of sunshine who expects us all to bask in the light of his considerable self importance. That being said, the mayoral accomplishments in our local schools is not an area that should at any point evoke images of Dr. King-especially from an elected official whose rhetoric has never brought the great civil rights leader to mind.

We will, however, give Mike Bloomberg some credit for the attempt; while having to point out that the results are a bit less than stellar. The mayor told his Harlem audience: "For too many years, those clouds hung over our public education system, which failed to serve generations of children. ... We just don't accept failure anymore, and we aren't giving up on a single child." This is, of course, rhetorical flatulence.

The city school system is simply another policy arena where the gap between the mayor's pronouncements and the achievements of our students looms quite cavernous. And those folks in the know will unavoidably find the mayor's self promotion jarring: "It's really unfair to kids of color in the city who, when you look at the facts behind the spin, you don't necessarily see these gains," said Patrick Sullivan, who represents Manhattan on the city's education policy board. "I think it's sad that he's running for reelection and has to spin the facts."

So it appears that the upcoming city election cycle will be a battle between the two Bloomberg's-the one who's a legend in his own mind; and the actual mayor who hasn't done nearly enough for the prohibition on three terms to have been so unceremoniously lifted. Or, in other words, "will the real Mike Bloomberg please stand up!"