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City officials tout newest education initiatives at a Bronx school

Mayor Bloomberg took his updated education reform agenda on a promotional tour this morning, stopping by a high-performing Bronx school with a principal who has gone to bat for him in the past.

Bloomberg and Chancellor Dennis Walcott traveled to the Urban Assembly School for Applied Math and Science  to tout the education initiatives that the mayor proposed during his State of the City address last week. Those plans include closing and reopening 33 struggling schools to clear the way for $60 million in federal funding, offering pay raises for teachers who receive high ratings, and repaying student loans for new teachers who excelled in college.

The eight-year-old school opened as part of Bloomberg’s small schools initiative, and the mayor cited it today as a resounding success.

“The students and teachers we had the opportunity to meet with today are part of a broader story of achievement in our city, but there is so much more to do,” Bloomberg said in City Hall’s press release about the visit. (Geoff joined the caravan of reporters who tagged along and will report more from the visit later today.)

Principal Kenneth Baum is also a longstanding supporter of the mayor’s policy initiatives. Last year, he advocated for Bloomberg’s (ultimately unsuccessful) push to do away with “last in, first out” seniority layoff rules. Walcott also name-checked Baum in his speech about reforming middle schools, saying that the principal’s practice of sending teachers to students’ homes before the school year starts exemplifies the community bonds that successful schools develop.

In contrast with the new small schools on the Morris campus, where Bloomberg delivered his speech last week, UAS-AMS was not opened to replace a large school that the city closed because of poor performance. It opened in 2004 in the basement of a condominium building in the Bathgate section of the Bronx and moved to a brand-new building, which it shares with two other schools, in 2006.

The city’s press release about the appearance is below.

MAYOR BLOOMBERG MEETS WITH TEACHERS AND STUDENTS TO DISCUSS NEXT STEPS IN EDUCATION REFORM At One of 500 New Schools Opened In Past Decade, Mayor Joins Chancellor Walcott to Outline Next Steps for Continued Academic Achievement Mayor Michael R. Bloomberg today met with teachers and students at the Urban Assembly School for Applied Math and Science to discuss next steps in the education reform plan he unveiled last week in the State of the City address. The Mayor joined a high school physics and English class to hear about their progress, and review his proposals to continue improvements in student achievement and public education. The Urban Assembly School for Applied Math and Science opened in 2004 and the high school ranked in the 94th percentile for overall progress for the 2010-2011 academic year. Applied Math and Science students outperform their peers for college readiness, and 95.8 percent of its first graduating high school class graduated in four years. The Mayor was joined in the Bronx by Schools Chancellor Dennis Walcott and Principal Kenneth Baum. The students and teachers we had the opportunity to meet with today are part of a broader story of achievement in our City, but there is so much more to do, said Mayor Bloomberg. As I said in my State of the City speech last week, we will continue to improve our schools for our 1.1 million students by recruiting, rewarding and retaining the best educators, and providing students with the support they need to thrive. Our Administration is not going to stop until there is a great teacher in every classroom and a great school in every neighborhood. The Urban Assembly School for Applied Math and Science has created incredible partnerships with their students’ families and built a school where the commitment to learning – and getting students excited about learning – is paramount, said Chancellor Walcott. Under the leadership of a fantastic Principal, Ken Baum, the teachers in this school work tirelessly and collaboratively to ensure their students are on track for college, and they are getting outstanding results. Mayor Bloomberg announced in his State of the City address a series of initiatives to build upon the successful public school reforms that have helped to increase graduation rates and improve math and reading comprehension for students across the City. The proposals commit to investments in quality teachers, take steps to remove those who are ineffective and expand opportunities for students and their families. One program will recruit top college graduates to teach in public schools by offering up to $25,000 for student loan debt, and another will reward teachers rated as highly effective with a $20,000 salary increase. The Mayor also detailed a plan to assess teachers in 33 of the City’s most struggling schools, and make the changes needed to achieve improvement in academic performance.