Bloomberg’s Disastrous "Educational Reform" in New York City

March 19, 2020
His thinking, rooted in systems analysis and cybernetics of de-mentors Norbert Wiener (left) and John von Neumann (right), Michael Bloomberg’s approach as mayor led to the destruction of New York City and its public school system.
His thinking, rooted in systems analysis and cybernetics of de-mentors Norbert Wiener (left) and John von Neumann (right), Michael Bloomberg’s approach as mayor led to the destruction of New York City and its public school system.

Second of a Series: Mike Bloomberg's Thinking Will Kill Faster Than Any Virus

by Barbara Boyd, [email protected]

In the first article in this series, we discussed Michael Bloomberg’s mode of thinking, a disease he shares with the elites worldwide. It is more deadly than any virus could ever be. As Lyndon LaRouche first wrote back in 1981, the application of Bloomberg’s systems analysis approach to whole economies and societal problems in the large, over extended periods of time, inevitably results in “white collar”-created genocides against human populations.

In fact, LaRouche thought this mode of thinking was so dangerous that he decided, when first encountering the works of John Von Neumann and, particularly, Norbert Wiener, that he would dedicate the rest of his life to eradicating it and the axiomatic assumptions about the nature of human beings and the universe which underlie it. LaRouche superseded it by positing human creativity as the driving force for sustained economic development and then proving that only creativity per se was consistent with the divine nature of human beings, the laws of the universe, and fundamental economic progress.

Linear descriptions of whole economies are only capable of describing sick and doomed economies. Underlying the systems analysis approach is the axiomatic assumption that human beings are mere animals to be manipulated according to the bestial impulses of pleasure and plain, that resources are fixed and, in such an entropic and closed system, the population must be periodically crushed and culled in order to allow the continued prosperity of the elites.

Here is LaRouche in 2000:

Many among what had been formerly successful enterprises, including national economies, which later eventually failed, had been led to that latter calamity by continuing the very policies which had ruined them, by such presumptions as the delusion, that pleasing shareholders gains, as shown on the “bottom line,” showed that recent trends in policy making in force should be continued. In such cases, the root of ultimate disaster is . . . the fallacy of assuming that what might appear to be true in reading of nominal cost-price ratios in the short term, or in the small, measures the physical result of the present policies in the long term, and in the large. . . . In short, a frequent cause of the bankruptcy which occurred in some such cases, was the cumulative impulse of decadent ownership . . . to increase short term profits, by curtailing those investments, and curtailing those elements of incurred cost on which the long-term future of that enterprise had actually depended. Such were the self-doomed navigators who charted a long journey on the presumption that estimates made for small areas, showed, in effect, that the earth is flat.

In this second article of our series, we discuss Michael Bloomberg’s educational reform in New York City, an actual disaster fully employing systems analysis as its modality, for which Bloomberg has been celebrated, both by himself and his fellow elites internationally. What we describe here is a form of menticide, implemented widely in New York City under Michael Bloomberg, but also widely utilized throughout the nation. We counterpose Lyndon LaRouche’s proposals concerning an actually human education to be provided to all, in order to point the way to an actual educational policy suitable for those planning to colonize space pursuant to President Trump’s Artemis program.

The Backdrop to Bloomberg’s Reforms

Education, the preparation of the next generation for their missions on this planet, is an essential element of physical-economic infrastructure. Since the end of World War II, the end of the war mobilization, U.S. educational standards and achievement have declined, drastically. The first ratchet down was the emergence of John Dewey and his fellow British positivist and behaviorist philosophers as the hegemonic school of thought among educators. There was a brief resurgence with the celebration of actual science, creativity, and the mobilization of the popular imagination and will, which occurred with the space program. But, following the destruction of the Bretton Woods monetary system on August 15, 1971, the overall direction has been a steep and uninterrupted decline.

Accompanying the birth of the present casino economy in 1971, a globalist economy controlled top-down by the financiers and oligarchs of the City of London and Wall Street, the U.S. economy was treated to a series of deliberate shocks, beginning with the “oil shock” of 1973. These shocks vastly contracted the U.S. science and industrial base, and the infrastructure required for its continuing, progressive development.

New York City’s Anglophilic elites, the Rockefellers, Morgan bankers, the Ford Foundation, led the charge, detailing their current and planned actions in Project 1980s, a series of studies published by the New York Council on Foreign Relations in 1975-1976. Emerging from these dictates was the idea of “controlled disintegration” of the world’s advanced industrial economies, with outsourcing of production to cheap labor havens in the developing sector. Paul Volcker, through his reign as Chairman of the Federal Reserve in the Carter Administration, administered the blows to the real economy which implemented these policies.

In New York City, the same financial oligarchy had begun mapping and staging the city’s devolution during the administration of Mayor John Lindsay. The 1968 teachers’ strike, pitting the United Federation of Teachers against the black and Latino residents of Ocean Hill-Brownsville calling for community control of the schools, destroyed the coalition of the Democratic Party, labor, and civil rights organizations that had previously and successfully resisted some of the worst plans of the financiers running the city. Now, the New York public schools’ largely minority population was turned against the public school teachers on the basis of identity politics, a rift which has never really healed.

In 1974-75, a municipal financial crisis was manufactured by the same financial interests. It resulted in the imposition of a financial dictatorship over all of the city’s finances under the auspices of the Emergency Financial Control Board (EFCB), chaired by Lazard Frères banker Felix Rohatyn. Historically, Lazard Frères had played a critical role in the installation of the fascist regimes in Europe that resulted in World War II. More recently, Rohatyn and his associates at the Partnership for the City of New York, were responsible for crowning Michael Bloomberg for three terms as Mayor of New York.

Roger Starr, Rohatyn’s New York Times publicist, writing in the New York Times Magazine on November 14, 1976, openly declared what was in store: New York City had to be shrunk, its population drastically reduced by one-third, its services, including education and healthcare, rationalized and cut.

Starr’s piece described whole portions of the city as dead zones. Under Rohatyn’s EFCB they were financially starved by the EFCB and strategic arsons burned them down as fire and police services to them were stopped. The industrial workforce, along with industry itself, fled. Low-wage service jobs became the fare for immigrants and the minority poor. Financial services and entertainment became the economic drivers of the City, creating the drastic wealth disparities which continue to this day. Between 1975-1981, 53 schools were closed, 10,000 teachers were lost.

While this was occurring, national trends in education were made appropriate to the deindustrialization policy; the population was to be dumbed down. Teaching colleges and universities educating the new generation of teachers became obsessed with supporting students based on race or sexual orientation; self-esteem rather than accomplishment became the measure of educational progress. Rigorous curricula in the sciences, classics, history, and art were abandoned as “authoritarian,” the thoughts and ideas of “dead white men.”

In purported reaction to the “progressive” educational policies now dominating the public sector, quack economist Milton Friedman, the foremost proponent of the British free trade and globalist policies which deindustrialized the United States, wrote Free to Choose. In this 1980 book, highly influential in the Reagan Administration, Friedman argued that vouchers and school choice should be used as a hammer against compulsory public education, which he opposed as needlessly inefficient, bureaucratic, and now, being based on the progressives, almost subversive. He proclaimed that “entrepreneurial” private schools, supported by vouchers, would allow for a Darwinian competition between public schools and private schools and end achievement gaps between white and minority populations. Standardized tests, Friedman said, would objectively determine whether public or private schools were doing a better job of educating students.

As the result of all of these developments, education, like healthcare—former essential professions which operated just fine, as such, in the formerly expanding industrial economy—were financialized as part of the new “service” economy. Instead of actually educating students, or providing healthcare to individual patients, these new service industries, dotted with publicly listed companies, primarily filled the coffers of Wall Street and the City of London by cannibalizing the former public sector, while, incidentally, providing mass packaged educational and health services to the population based on efficiencies wrung from systems analysis modeling.

The current coronavirus pandemic is demonstrating the genocidal nature of our just-in-time healthcare system, lacking any surge capacity, or necessary surplus of hospital rooms, life-saving drugs, and equipment. The complete lack of an actual education in science, history, classical arts, and languages manifests itself in whole sections of the population enslaved to our national security state’s propagandists, who regularly torture and manipulate them with fake news and drive popular hysterias on both the right and the left.

So, when New York City shrank, based on the shock tactics of Felix Rohatyn and Roger Starr, so did its public education system. There were pockets of the city in which the affluent could receive a passing education in private or magnet schools set up to service them. That, after all, was the plan: a devolution of the nation’s educational system into something like the old British imperial system. One to two percent were to be trained to rule, a few more were tracked as middle management, and the vast majority were trained to know their place as unskilled or semi-skilled labor. Schools in impoverished neighborhoods languished: There was no investment in buildings; crime and violence were rampant, teachers fled. This is the backdrop to Michael Bloomberg’s educational “reforms.”

Bloomberg’s Axioms

In a speech at Oxford University on December 8, 2016, Michael Bloomberg provided a startling demonstration of the axioms that control how and what he thinks. This speech, widely circulated on the internet, is credited as contributing to the collapse of his Presidential campaign, along with his robotic, and plain mean-old-man persona on display in the Democratic debates.

Answering a student’s question about the income inequality which, the student posited, led to Donald Trump’s election, Bloomberg says you can “fix the inequality” by taxing the rich and giving the money to the poor. You do this for various reasons, he says, including altruism and the fact “that you don’t want the poor on your doorstep.”

But, he says, what the lower strata really want is the dignity of a job. He then launched into his version of economic history, pointing out that, “We can teach processes,” saying that he could teach anyone in the room to be a farmer because of the simple steps of putting the seed in the ground and watering it—follow the set of instructions and you’re a farmer. Similarly, in the industrial age, all that was required was following the instructions for the process, the skill involved figuring out which way the arrow pointed on a machine and turning the crank.

But, in the “information age,” Bloomberg says, something more is required, since we are replacing men with machines and the requirement is the ability to think and analyze, using a lot more “gray matter.” It is unclear whether the teachers can teach this or the students can learn, but the problem has to be solved, he says, lest “they start setting up guillotines someday.”

Since business has no responsibility for this, because it exists solely to create products which people like, and to maximize the profits of its shareholders, the forum for solving this is government. And, the only solution Bloomberg thinks government can provide is in the creation of no-show or meaningless and “inefficient” jobs for people who don’t fit into the green “information society,” like former industrial workers and coal miners. It would be better to do this, he says, than to have them without jobs and being out there acting to destabilize society.

It is difficult to understate the level of arrogant ignorance represented by Bloomberg’s class-based and utopian remarks. He has obviously never been to the science- and engineering-based factory that is the modern farm, nor does he have any relationship to actual productive processes—after all, the computer terminal he invented which made him rich simply facilitates better card-counting in Wall Street’s gambling casino. He knows nothing about machine tools and the inventiveness of workers on modern manufacturing platforms. He lives in the world of his “data” and in the utopian fantasies of the information age.

And, as he freely admits, after spending billions of dollars warring with and breaking the teachers’ union and privatizing New York City’s schools, he has no idea whether his methods and ideas can educate human beings. As we detail here, his quest was a disaster, a form of actual menticide against an entire generation of New York City kids, for which he and his ilk should rightfully be prosecuted.

Bloomberg intended to claim that his success in doing what he claimed was unthinkable, raising reading and math scores in New York City, entitled him to be President of the United States, his life-long ambition. Instead, Joe Biden has apparently promised Bloomberg that he will be made President of the World Bank, also a life-long ambition, provided Bloomberg proves capable in buying the presidency for Joe Biden.

The First Phase of the Plan

The first phase of Bloomberg’s plan for New York City’s schools involved establishing the Mayor’s Office, rather than the moribund and failing Board of Education, as the sole authority for all educational policy. The State Legislature gave him this control soon after his election in 2002.

At the time Bloomberg took over, 42 percent of New York City school kids were considered proficient in reading, 31 percent were considered proficient in math, and less than 50 percent of students would graduate in four years. Sixteen percent of the teachers were uncertified, and a full ten percent of the math teachers had flunked math testing at least four times. All of the teachers themselves had been educated using the new age progressive norms dominant in the nation’s teaching curricula throughout the 1980s and 1990s. In addition to the vast majority of students belonging to poor minority families, there was also a huge immigrant population which spoke English only as a second language.

Bloomberg proposed to conquer this problem by employing modern utopian systems analysis management techniques, and, ultimately, privatizing the entire system under the Darwinian free market axioms first propounded by Milton Friedman. Teachers were to be rewarded for progress on test scores. Principals were sent to a special leadership training academy featuring classes from such Wall Street titans as former GE President Jack Welch. They were being educated to become “change agents.” Schools, principals, and teachers were all to be held accountable based on progress on test scores. Allegedly, if the scores went up, they received bonuses, if the scores went down they would be fired or their schools closed. In reality, in this first stage, teachers, principals, and students were being profiled as to whether or not they would comply with Bloomberg’s system or resist it. Those resisting were simply dumped.

The Gates, Broad, and Walton Foundations, all giants in the school privatization movement, were brought in to fund and supervise dismantling of neighborhood schools and the radical substitution of a “small schools” movement, aimed at pitting small public schools and private charter schools, often housed in the same building, in a competition for better test scores.

Testing data and algorithms would govern everything. McKinsey Consulting was brought in with a multi-million dollar contract to analyze and profile each aspect of the schools, from ethnic composition to the education and performance levels of teachers in teaching what amounted to standardized tests. Under a system, put into place by Chancellor Joel Klein, each student in the system was ultimately profiled centrally, concerning whether they were making progress or not, requiring remedial help to up their test scores. Private schoolers and consultants were then brought in to schools or students deemed failing, with multi-million dollar contracts attached.

Centralization in the first phase of this plan went so far that Chancellor of the New York City Department of Education, Joel Klein, and his lieutenants, literally dictated to teachers how to arrange the chairs, the desks, the rugs, and even the bulletin boards in their classrooms.

These changes were accompanied by a huge public relations juggernaut, similar to Bloomberg’s half billion in ads during his failed Presidential campaign. The Department of Education sprouted a 29-person strong PR staff, augmented by Mayor Bloomberg’s own PR staff, further augmented by the Fund for Public Schools. The Fund, ostensibly an independent not-for-profit organization, was chaired by Chancellor Klein.

As described by David Bloomfield, President of the Citywide Council for High Schools (CCHS), the Education Department’s website was representative of pervasive spin.

The website should be transformed from a mayoral campaign vehicle to something useful . . . it’s all buttercups-and-roses, smoke and mirrors. Why is there never any bad news? Just press releases on the home page taking credit for the sun rising. . . . The website is a perfect example of what makes everyone so mad about the way the Mayor has handled the schools: data manipulation, grandiose claims, and almost no way to find out that a third (or is it more?) of our schools are failing under No Child Left Behind.

As might be anticipated in this plan, test scores were endlessly manipulated to show progress under Bloomberg’s plan. Educators Diane Ravitch and Sol Stern have demonstrated this in numerous published books and essays, despite being early fans of Bloomberg, privatization, and the national educational reform movement under the Bush and Obama Administrations. Similar test score cheating scenarios were documented in other school systems implementing the “data driven” systems analysis programs, particularly the Washington, D.C. public school system under Bloomberg protégé Chancellor Michele Rhee.

Phase II—The British Come Out from Behind the Curtain

Having culled the system of students, teachers, principals, and schools deemed “failing,” Bloomberg and Chancellor Klein moved on to the full implementation of Milton Friedman’s “market” model for the New York City public school system. Sir Michael Barber, the satanic Tony Blair’s education minister, was brought in to construct what was to become the new decentralized free market New York City educational system. Barber’s pronounced goal is putting every child in the world under his educational model. Every country “should have exactly the same definition of what it means ‘to be good at math.’” Every child in 2050 must know “E(K+T+L), (Knowledge + Thinking + Leadership) multiplied by the ‘ethical underpinnings’ of environmentalism.” In other words, every child is to be systematically brainwashed into accepting the zero growth and genocidal assumptions of the Green New Deal.

As documented by Sol Stern, Barber’s new decentralized model involved creation of a new office in the Department of Education, the “Market Maker.” From operating “like a regulated, command-and-control economy, the system would go almost overnight to something that, on paper at least, would work like Adam Smith’s invisible hand. “Shock therapy” like that applied to the complete looting and devolution of the former Soviet economy, was to be applied to the New York public school system. Principals would become “entrepreneurs” under decentralized control. They could seek both public and private funding. If they succeeded in raising math and reading scores, they would be rewarded. If they failed, they would be fired.

At an event sponsored by the “Market Maker” office in 2007, principals were treated to a video featuring New York public school alumni Henry Kissinger, Spike Lee, and Joan Rivers, with Spike Lee touting the new role of principals in the reorganization. As reported by Stern, “the soon-to-be empowered principals” then got to wander the luxury hotel’s exhibition halls, transformed into a supermarket of private education service providers. In turn, the 14 pre-selected private providers competed against one another to sign up the principals, now in control of their own budgets, as customers.

Missing in Action: Curriculum and Pedagogy

In a remarkable admission, Bloomberg’s selected chancellor, Joel Klein, says that what was being taught and its pedagogy were never really seriously considered in Bloomberg’s “reforms.” Klein, a former Justice Department anti-trust attorney, got his job through Bloomberg’s self-identified network of friends which Bloomberg dubs this nation’s “intelligentsia.” In Klein’s case, journalist Margaret Carlson, a Bloomberg friend through her mentor, Aspen Institute President Walter Isaacson, made the recommendation.

Klein also admits in his book, Lessons of Hope: How to Fix Our Schools, that a second axiomatic assumption governing Bloomberg’s efforts was that the marketplace privatized educational system would overcome the impacts of pervasive poverty and income inequality in New York City and the degraded and decadent violent video game entertainment culture in which the impoverished lived. Since Bloomberg and friends flourish off the present imperial model of economy, they have no intention of actually addressing wage inequality or decadent culture, since these are control mechanisms within their economic model. But, as Bloomberg points out in his Oxford address, unless they can sell the population on the idea that education and job access are improving, the guillotines might be at the door.

In the current educational landscape, attention to curriculum and pedagogy is dubbed the “knowledge acquisition” model as compared to Bloomberg’s approach which is dubbed the “incentive” model.

Klein suddenly realized the importance of curriculum and “knowledge acquisition” when visiting a school allegedly teaching the history of the civil war. When a student was asked what caused the civil war, his answer, was “racism.” The entire class then shifted to discussing their personal experience of racism. The idea of actually discussing one of the most significant moments in the nation’s history was completely lost, never to be regained.

Despite billions of dollars being spent under Bloomberg’s regime, test scores only briefly moved up in math and science by a few percentage points and then quickly retreated in subsequent years. However, the New York City school system is now very heavily privatized for profit, a central goal of the entire escapade.

Lyndon LaRouche’s Educational Idea

Lyndon LaRouche wrote extensively about education with the idea that every child should have the gift of the rigorous intellectual background necessary to achieve full citizenship in our Republic. His idea differs in all respects from the fascist system, designed to foster obedience, which Michael Bloomberg foisted on New York City.

Instead, LaRouche says that education should foster the creativity of every individual child through the re-experiencing of the fundamental discoveries of the universal laws of nature as they progressed in human history. He also advocated the re-introduction of the Humboldt curriculum which once governed both subjects taught and pedagogy in the United States. His emphasis was on fundamental science education, classical art, universal history, and languages.

In a speech in 1998, “How the Top 1% of Americans Think,” LaRouche succinctly summarized how educational systems could foster the creativity of students. In a classroom of 15-17 students, a teacher presents the opportunity for the children to re-enact a fundamental discovery of, “say some Greek, 2,000 years ago or more.” Such fundamental discoveries invariably involve paradoxes, the contrast between a present state of human knowledge which provably does not cohere with the laws of nature, and a new principle to be discovered, which does. For example, the principles involved in discovering that the Earth is not flat or Kepler’s numerous discoveries about the planetary orbits.

In an appropriate social process while re-enacting the discovery, several students come upon an as yet unarticulated hypothesis and then, in excitement, try to figure out how to prove whether what they are thinking is right. The experiment proving this is then designed in what science calls a crucial experiment. Working through and solving just such problems is at the center of school pedagogy and curriculum:

These little kiddies, ... The trick is, when they make a discovery, is what comes over their faces, is happiness. The light turns on. . . . It’s the great joy of people who like to teach children, is to turn that light of happiness on in that little mind when it makes a discovery, has an insight, a human insight or a scientific insight, or the equivalent. . . .

Classical art, LaRouche says, is placed above even science in his curriculum.

Because Classical art deals with the question of how human minds interrelate in the process of discovery, including scientific discovery and artistic discovery. It’s through art, and Classical forms of art, which deal with this question, with mankind’s morality. . . . You see the struggle of mankind to do this, in which he always finds a metaphor, or the equivalent of a metaphor, poses it, and develops an idea. Not a sense perception, not “just the facts, ma’am.” . . . And man then has an understanding of how you can bring together people, around ideas; because society, man’s ability to act together, is based on acting on ideas, not on suggestions, not on formulas, not on programs, not on recipes. . . .

And you have people who say, “Well, we don’t want to educate people above their station. We want to educate people for practical purposes. We want to know what they’re going to do in life, and then we’ll give them that kind of education. We don’t want to educate them to be human beings. We don’t want to educate them to know what it is to be a human being, in the sense of understanding science, of understanding art; to understand man’s relationship to man, man’s relationship to the universe.”

Instead, LaRouche says:

Give me people who understand that, up to the level of art and science as we’ve known it so far, and you’ve got everything. You’ve got an educated person, you’ve got a civilized person who can do all kinds of things; which we don’t have any more. We’re destroying them in our education system.