Saturday, April 5, 2008

Bloomberg Expands Congestion Pricing Plan to Schools

April 4, 2008 (GBN News): With his congestion pricing plan facing an uncertain future in the State Legislature, Mayor Bloomberg today introduced a proposal to tie the embattled traffic plan to a new scheme which he said would also satisfy critics who have been demanding a reduction of congestion in the city’s public school classrooms. Under the Mayor’s plan, students who enter classrooms in the city’s most overcrowded schools will be charged a daily fee of $8. This will give students an incentive to attend less crowded private schools in order to avoid the extra charge, and thus reduce class size in the public schools. Revenue raised through this fee, Mr. Bloomberg said, will benefit the city’s public school children through the development of four additional interim assessments per year as well as a $16 million upgrade to the Education Department’s ARIS computer system.

A source at the DOE told GBN News that the Mayor feels many of the critics of his traffic plan are what he terms “the very same malcontents” who persistently criticize overcrowding in the city schools. Mr. Bloomberg is said to have concluded that if he can mollify these detractors by reducing class size through classroom congestion pricing, they will in return drop their objections to the Mayor’s traffic plan.

The new proposal came under immediate attack from Public Advocate Betsy Gotbaum, who called the plan a “mockery of the concept of free public education.” Mayor Bloomberg responded by saying, “The education is still free. We’re just charging them to get into the classroom.”

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