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1st day of class for New York City public schools

September 6, 2012 3:14:46 PM PDT
It's back to school for more than one million children in New York City public schools Thursday.

Mayor Michael Bloomberg and schools chancellor Dennis Walcott are traveling the five boroughs, welcoming students and promising better outreach to parents who have spent the past decade fighting the mayor's reform program.

This is the last full year of school for the Bloomberg administration, and it's leaving its mark. The city education department is opening 55 new schools this year, including 24 charter schools. The city also is moving nearly 160,000 special-needs students into mainstream classes, meaning they will no longer be taught separately.

Under a series of chancellors, the city has torn apart its old education system, rolling out 600 new schools in the past decade.

Walcott points to the results. The city's four-year high school graduation rate has jumped from 47 percent in 2005 to nearly 61 percent last year.

But the city's teachers remain on edge. Just 55 percent of eligible new teachers were granted tenure last year. And the teachers union boasts that its legal action kept the city from closing 24 so-called failing schools and dismissing half of their teachers.

Chancellor Walcott promises he will strike a deal with the teachers union on a new evaluation system for the city's 77,000 teachers by mid-January.

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