Saturday, February 21, 2009

Marist poll results: most voters disapprove of Bloomberg's education record

On Friday, a new Marist poll was released, showing Bloomberg’s approval rating has dropped seven percent -- to its lowest level in nearly four years.

Though most New Yorkers still approve of his performance overall, the majority of voters disapprove of his handling of the public schools – 52% to 40% -- despite the millions of dollars spent to convince New Yorkers otherwise.

This disinformation campaign is being carried out through subway and TV ads sponsored by the Fund for Public Schools (a nonprofit headed by Joel Klein that was ostensibly established to improve programs for public school students); Learn NY (which is funneling cash to community groups so they will back the continuation of Mayoral control); the editorial boards of the NY Post and Daily News (which are controlled by Bloomberg’s buddies, Rupert Murdoch and Mort Zuckerman); and the DOE’s own considerable PR staff of 23– larger than that of any other city agency by far.

For more on the results of the Marist poll, see Gotham Schools: Poll: Majority of voters disapprove of mayor’s handling of schools.


David Cantor said...

Re the DOE's "considerable PR staff of 23":

The DOE does not have a communications or pr staff of 23. I have no idea where this number comes from. Many incorrect, inflated citations of our headcount have appeared in recent years and I've corrected them publicly over and over. I have provided to any reporter who asked the office's full roster with titles and salaries. If a correction has not appeared on this list--it may have--it has appeared in outlets that the moderator reads. The facts: there are 12 staff members (including a secretary) in the communications office. The office oversees not merely the usual tasks of a press office--media outreach and event planning--but also the agency's enormous volume of internal communications and the DOE web site.

If the "PR" staff is again listed here as comprising more than a dozen staff without citing my count, which I can document, it will be a lie.

David Cantor
Press Secretary
NYC Dept of Education

Leonie Haimson said...

Dear David: thanks for stopping by.

According to the DOEs latest financial status report, issued by the Division of the budget in January 2009, the office of Communications, Media Relations & Community Affairs had 23 full time employees as of Nov. 2008.

This is an increase of 77% compared to the comparable office in Oct. 2004 -- the Office of Public Affairs, which at that point employed 13 people.

The Oct. 2004 is the oldest financial status report that I could find on line at the DOE's website.

Please do post the list of all the employees at the office of Communications, Media Relations & Community Affairs, including their titles, responsibilities, and salaries -- either on the blog directly or by emailing me at If you email them to me I will post them on the blog.

Please also share with us the list of employees of the Office of Public Affairs for 2004 and we can compare.


Diane Ravitch said...

I was told a few years ago by both Harold Levy and Rudy Crew that there were three people in the PR department at the Board of Education when they were chancellor.

Diane Ravitch

Patrick J. Sullivan said...

With the mayor's poll numbers down and a majority of the city disapproving his management of the schools, there must be a lot of angst there in the press office wing of Tweed.

I don't need to see a headcount to know there are too many people employed in the press office. Last year Deputy Chancellor Cerf explained to me that he felt it essential to send press staffers to tape Diane Ravitch's lectures because the DOE may get asked about something she said and it was important to have an accurate record of what she did say. Sorry, but that is not an acceptable use of the school budget, not when we don't even have enough money to pay substitutes.

Or another example, this time from my sons' school. The first week of school a woman from Tweed called repeatedly, always identifying herself as calling from the "Chancellor's Office". It was quite unusual. Even when a crane collapse resulted in our building being turned into a command center for OEM and the Red Cross, we never got a call. But what was so important the first week of school? The NY Post wanted to know how much money our PTA had raised. Apparently, the district office who is responsible for keeping this information couldn't locate it so it became urgent business of the press office, on a priority mission for the chancellor.

The press office exists in it's extraordinarily bloated form to manufacture the perception that Mike Bloomberg is doing a great job running the schools. He's not and poll results show most people don't think so, so why do we still need 23 people trying to spin?