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In award speech, Bloomberg calls principals "unsung heroes"

Though they haven’t always seen eye to eye on education issues, Mayor Bloomberg’s relationship with Council of School Supervisors and Administrators President Ernie Logan is still in good shape as his third term comes to a close.

Bloomberg’s affection for principals and their union boss was on display this week during a speech at a gala event hosted by New Visions for New Public Schools. The education organization, which partnered with the Department of Education to create 100 small high schools and charter schools during Bloomberg’s tenure, awarded him with its “Visionary Award.”

“He’s going to be embarrassed when I tell you this,” Bloomberg said. “But Ernie Logan, who is the president of the principals union, and his members have made an enormous difference.”

The remarks start about 2 minutes and 40 seconds into the video.

A cornerstone of the reforms that Bloomberg brought when he won control of the school system in 2002 was to give principals more decision-making authority around how to run their schools, a managerial style based on his private-sector experience.

“No organization works without good management,” Bloomberg said. “Principals really are the keys to making sure that all of the teachers can use their skills and work together and get the training and support that they need.”

“I just think that the principals that we’ve been able to attract that Ernie represents really are the ones, the great unsung heroes,” Bloomberg added.

The rapid expansion of schools under Bloomberg — 654 new ones since 2002 — has drained the talent pool and led to concerns of a shortage of high-quality  leaders in the system. The city has estimated it must hire up to 200 principals a year and said it struggles to attract people for those positions.

To address the issues, the city has in recent years developed its own leadership academy and expanded a series of professional development programs.

Logan and the CSA has often sided with the powerful teachers union in disputes with the city over the years, most notably on Bloomberg’s school closure policies and principal evaluation plans. But Logan found common ground too, most recently when CSA settled on a principal evaluation deal in the eleventh hour after months of conflict.

Bloomberg has a thornier relationship with the United Federation of Teachers, though Bloomberg made sure to recognize its members as well.

“We all talk about teachers, and I love them. We have 75,000 of the best teachers in the world,” Bloomberg said. “But the principals never get the respect and the adulation and recognition that I think they deserve.”

Another highlight of Bloomberg’s speech was something he didn’t say. While recognizing city’s all of the people who work in New York City schools and in the Department of Education, he left out Cathie Black and her rocky four-month tenure as his second chancellor as one of the agency heads who helped steer the system for the last 12 years.

“The truth of the matter is, it was not me. It was simply the people that I was lucky enough to work with,”  Bloomberg said. “First Joel Klein and then Dennis Walcott.”

As Bloomberg’s third term ends, he’s picking up other awards and recognitions for his work on youth and education issues. On Thursday, Bloomberg also received a Public Service Leadership Award at a Children’s Aid Society gala.

Weekend Reads

Need classroom decor inspiration? These educators have got you covered.

This school year, students will spend about 1,000 hours in school —making their classrooms a huge part of their learning experience.

We’re recognizing educators who’ve poured on the pizazz to make students feel welcome. From a 9th-grade “forensics lab” decked out in caution tape to a classroom stage complete with lights to get first graders pumped about public speaking, these crafty teachers have gone above and beyond to create great spaces.

Got a classroom of your own to show off? Know someone that should be on this list? Let us know!

Jaclyn Flores, First Grade Dual Language, Rochester, New York
“Having a classroom that is bright, cheerful, organized and inviting allows my students to feel pride in their classroom as well as feel welcome. My students look forward to standing on the stage to share or sitting on special chairs to dive into their learning. This space is a safe place for my students and we take pride in what it has become.”

Jasmine, Pre-K, Las Vegas, Nevada
“My classroom environment helps my students because providing calming colors and a home-like space makes them feel more comfortable in the classroom and ready to learn as first-time students!”


Oneika Osborne, 10th Grade Reading, Miami Southridge Senior High School, Miami, Florida
“My classroom environment invites all of my students to constantly be in a state of celebration and self-empowerment at all points of the learning process. With inspirational quotes, culturally relevant images, and an explosion of color, my classroom sets the tone for the day every single day as soon as we walk in. It is one of optimism, power, and of course glitter.”

Kristen Poindexter, Kindergarten, Spring Mill Elementary School, Indianapolis, Indiana
“I try very hard to make my classroom a place where memorable experiences happen. I use songs, finger plays, movement, and interactive activities to help cement concepts in their minds. It makes my teacher heart so happy when past students walk by my classroom and start their sentence with, “Remember when we…?”. We recently transformed our classroom into a Mad Science Lab where we investigated more about our 5 Senses.”


Brittany, 9th Grade Biology, Dallas, Texas
“I love my classroom environment because I teach Biology, it’s easy to relate every topic back to Forensics and real-life investigations! Mystery always gets the students going!”


Ms. Heaton, First Grade, Westampton, New Jersey
“As an educator, it is my goal to create a classroom environment that is positive and welcoming for students. I wanted to create a learning environment where students feel comfortable and in return stimulates student learning. A classroom is a second home for students so I wanted to ensure that the space was bright, friendly, and organized for the students to be able to use each and every day.”

D’Essence Grant, 8th Grade ELA, KIPP Houston, Houston, Texas
“Intentionally decorating my classroom was my first act of showing my students I care about them. I pride myself on building relationships with my students and them knowing I care about them inside and outside of the classroom. Taking the time to make the classroom meaningful and creative as well building a safe place for our community helps establish an effective classroom setting.”


Jayme Wiertzema, Elementary Art, Worthington, Minnesota
“I’m looking forward to having a CLASSROOM this year. The past two years I have taught from a cart and this year my amazing school district allowed me to have a classroom in our school that is busting at the seams! I’m so excited to use my classroom environment to inspire creativity in my students, get to know them and learn from their amazing imaginations in art class!”


Melissa Vecchio, 4th Grade, Queens, New York
“Since so much of a student’s time is spent inside their classroom, the environment should be neat, organized, easy to move around in but most of all positive. I love to use a theme to reinforce great behavior. I always give the students a choice in helping to design bulletin boards and desk arrangements. When they are involved they take pride in the classroom, and enjoy being there.”

moving forward

After Confederate flag dispute at Colorado football game, schools pledge to bring students together

PHOTO: Marc Piscotty
Manual High students.

Acknowledging “we may never have a conclusive picture of what happened,” two Colorado school districts sought to move past a controversy over whether a Confederate flag was displayed at a football game and open a conversation between the two school communities.

The principal of Manual High, Nick Dawkins, wrote in a community letter over the weekend that the visiting Weld Central High School team “displayed a Confederate flag during the first quarter of the (Friday night) game, offending many members of the Manual community.”

Officials from Denver Public Schools and Weld County School District Re-3J released a joint letter Tuesday saying that based “on what we have learned to date, however, the Weld Central team did not display the Confederate flag.” At the same time, it said, multiple Manual eyewitnesses “reported seeing spectators who attempted to bring a Confederate flag into the game and clothing with flag images.”

Going forward, students from the two schools — one rural and one urban — will participate in a student leadership exchange that has student leaders visit each other’s schools and communities to “share ideas and perspectives,” the letter says.

“At a time in our country when so many are divided, we want our students instead to come together, share ideas and learn together,” says the letter, which is signed by the principals of both schools and the superintendents of both school districts.

The alleged incident took place at a time when issues of race, social injustice, politics and sports are colliding in the United States, making for tough conversations, including in classrooms.

Weld Central’s mascot is a Rebel. Manual, whose mascot is the Thunderbolts, is located in one of Denver’s historically African-American neighborhoods.

Dawkins in his initial community letter also said “the tension created by the flag led to conflict on and off the playing field,” and that three Manual players were injured, including one who went to the hospital with a leg injury. He also said some Manual players reported that Weld Central players “taunted them with racial slurs.”

Weld Central officials vehemently denied that their team displayed the flag. In addition, they said in their own community letter they had “no evidence at this point that any of our student athletes displayed racially motivated inappropriate behavior.”

They said district officials “do not condone any form of racism,” including the Confederate flag.

Weld Central fans told the Greeley Tribune that they didn’t see any Confederate flag.

Read the full text below.