NEW YORK (AP) — Mayor Michael Bloomberg told high school student on the first day of school Monday to work hard if they want to succeed, and the schools chancellor said he hopes the next mayor doesn't reverse Bloomberg education policies like encouraging charter schools.
"I can tell you this: The work is not going to be easy," Bloomberg said at Gregorio Luperon High School for Science and Mathematics, a school for recent immigrants in Washington Heights. "It's not supposed to be. But I believe in you and your teachers believe in you. ... And so when a math experiment is especially tough or math teacher assigns problems that take what seems like hours to solve, don't give up. Keep at it."
The first day of school for the city's 1.1 million public school students came on the eve of Tuesday's primary election to replace Bloomberg after three terms. Several candidates including Democratic front-runner Bill de Blasio have criticized Bloomberg policies such as forcing district schools to share space with charter schools and closing schools that are deemed to be struggling.
Bloomberg did not address the election, but Schools Chancellor Dennis Walcott said it's important to provide parents with choices including charter schools.
"For any candidate to talk about choking off that kind of choice is truly unfortunate," Walcott said at Icahn Charter School 7 in the Bronx, a new school that opened Monday.
Walcott added, "We have a responsibility to focus our energies on our students. And that means providing opportunities through different types of schools and also making the difficult decisions when those schools are not performing, whether they're district schools or charter schools, phasing them out after we've provided enough support to try to see if they're going to work."
Bloomberg has opened 654 new schools, including 76 this year, and has closed more than 150 schools since taking office in 2002.
Also on Monday, about 50 students at Stuyvesant High School, the city's most academically selective public school, held a rally in support of an assistant principal who is being disciplined over a 2012 cheating scandal.
An investigation into the scandal faulted both assistant principal Randi Damesek and then-principal Stanley Teitel, who has retired. The Department of Education has removed Damesek from the school and is seeking to fire her.