Bloomberg on Obama's No Child Left Behind exemptions: 'Not sure why that's a good idea'
Mayor Michael Bloomberg this morning questioned the president's decision to grant ten states exemptions to the federal education law, No Child Left Behind, which requires that schools ensure students be proficient in math and reading by 2014, or face punitive measures.
Some state and local leaders have come to regard the requirements as burdensome and counterproductive, but not the mayor.
"Taking away the requirement and the incentive to do a good job, I’m not sure why that’s a good idea," said Bloomberg during his regular Friday morning appearance on the John Gambling radio show. "I haven’t talked to the president about it. My gut reaction is that we should keep increasing the standards, raising the standards, not reducing them."
The mayor also expressed some reservations about a proposal by City Council speaker Christine Quinn at her State of the City speech yesterday to make kindergarten mandatory for five-year-olds.
“More education for kids is something that we all should be in favor of," said Bloomberg. "The question really is where the money comes from. What she’s proposing would cost, I think we estimate, something like $30 million a year. And we’ll have to take a look at it."
Finally, the mayor expressed yet more skepticism about a recent audit of the Port Authority. The audit, released late Tuesday afternoon, places a lot of blame for cost overruns on work the authority's done on behalf of third parties like the September 11 Memorial and Museum. In particular, the audit said that the move, strongly supported by the mayor, to get the memorial done in time for the attacks' tenth anniversary, was a huge expense.
Yesterday, during a brief question-and-answer session about the audit, an authority commissioner put a number on that expense: about $500 million.
The mayor, this morning, was skeptical: "Did that increase their costs? I think you'd be hard-pressed to really show that. You can say it. But I don’t know that there's any evidence that that’s the case. And now we have to go and build out this museum."