Friday, July 27, 2007

Bloomberg begins his prodding

First, a quick introduction. I'm Richard Whitmire, an editorial writer at USA Today and president of the Education Writers Assn. I'm going to try to keep track of the not-yet-declared candidates, including New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg, who may never declare. Actually, that's what makes him the most interesting of the bunch, especially on education issues.
From my perspective, Bloomberg and Schools Chancellor Joe Klein are carrying out some of the most unique education reforms in the nation. Recently, Andy Rotherham (of Eduwonk and Education Sector fame) and I wrote a piece for Politico laying out what we saw as a compelling education platform for candidates of either party and invited the candidates to "steal" our agenda. Copying the New York reforms was high on our list.
As a result, I expect to see Bloomberg use his "possible" independent candidacy as a prod to force candidates of both parties to move off their scripted lines and deal with real issues, especially education. Actually, that started already when he spoke July 25 before the National Urban League.
There, Bloomberg pushed hard on merit pay for teachers, an issue Sen. Obama raised recently, but only in a muffled sort of way. Muffled speech is not Bloomberg's style. Expect more of this.

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