Mayor Says His Plan to Fix Struggling Schools is Working as Governor Pushes Alternative

Mayor Bill de Blasio on Wednesday visited a troubled high school that was once labeled a "warehouse" for failing students and argued that his plan to turn around struggling schools is working, while Governor Andrew Cuomo is pushing a rival plan for bad schools. NY1's Lindsey Christ filed the following report.

Automotive High School has long been rated one of the city's absolute worst in academics and safety. But according to Mayor Bill de Blasio, it's a burgeoning success story.

''This is a school where a lot of positive change is happening," the mayor said.

Automotive is one of many long-failing schools that the mayor claims is turning around under his leadership. It's the third struggling school he's visited in three weeks, part of a campaign to prove his overhaul plan is working.

Many education reformers preferred former Mayor Michael Bloomberg's approach of closing failing schools. De Blasio's critics say he's moving too slowly by giving the 94 lowest-performing schools three years to improve. 

The biggest threat to the mayor's education policies right now, though, comes from Albany, where Governor Andrew Cuomo proposed the state take over the failing schools.

"With all due respect to folks who work in Albany, I don't think that bureaucrats 150 miles away are going to do a better job of solving our problems than our own chancellor and our own principals and teachers will do," de Blasio said.

Part of the mayor's push to show he has a serious plan in place has been to emphasize how he is not going to go easy on underperforming teachers. Although the mayor has a close relationship with the teachers' union, he and Schools Chancellor Carmen Fariña stressed how they will bounce educators who aren't cutting it. 

"I think the message to everyone in the profession is, 'Get ready to play harder, get ready to reach a higher standard. If you don't want to do that, we'll help you move on to something else,'" de Blasio said.

"One of the first things I ask a principal is, show me an exemplary classroom and show me a teacher you are concerned about," Fariña said.

They said that as of this week, they've convinced 309 low-performing teachers to retire or resign. Now, they just need to convince Cuomo and Albany lawmakers to let them keep running the school system.

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