By: Tony Best
As the Democratic standard-bearer who came within 50,000 votes of being elected Mayor of New York City a few years ago, Bill Thompson wants the City University of New York to find out why there may have been slippage in student performance at Medgar Evers College.
Just as important, he wants corrective action to be taken.
And with the college’s overall performance and that of its President, Dr. William Pollard, under critical review by CUNY, just like all of the other schools that belong to the City university system of tertiary level educational institutions, Thompson believes in the end Medgar Evers should be provided with the financial and other resources to expand facilities there and to boost student classroom results.
“The college is very important to central Brooklyn and of course I support every effort that is being made to ensure that it continues to grow and that the performance of its students are at the highest level,” said the former City Comptroller who once served as President of the Board of Education. “I have a natural interest in education of our children and I believe that everything must be done to ensure that the college shines.”
Thompson, the grandson of Caribbean immigrants is running once again for the Democratic Mayoral nomination and has raised $1.5 million for his campaign and he said that as Mayor he would ensure that action was taken was taken give Medgar Evers and the various schools across the City the wherewithal to get the job done.
“We looked at Medgar Evers over a period of years to make sure that it grew stronger and that money was there for capital improvement through growth with buildings. We must to ensure that its instructors reach the toughest and highest standards so that the college can continue to be a quality institution,” said Thompson. “I think if it’s a question of a decline in performance, CUNY should be looking at why and how we improve that,” said the mayoral candidate. “It has happened in the past and Medgar Evers has gotten stronger. We need to do that again. Mat Golstein and the team and leadership at CUNY must take a look at why, if there student performance has declined they must take a look at why and make the correction.
“I have a lot of faith in them (at CUNY leadership). They have improved the City University system dramatically over the years and so let’s take a look at Medgar Evers to make sure it as strong as it can be,” added the former Comptroller.
Turning to the broad issue of education, Thompson has called for some major changes, one of which must be more parental involvement in education of the City’s 1.1 million students in public schools.
“I have spoken about the need to get away from the focus on standardized testing. WE must emphasize critical thinking and comprehension in our schools,” he said. “If we are teaching kids that one-plus one is two, then the children must understand the concepts behind it so they can use them for other things. “As mayor I would certainly involve the parents. It is a question of looking and making sure that we go back to basics in a number of ways.
“I would like to bring back art and physical education back to the school system. We should also bring more technology into the school system. So right off the bat I would say there are differences the Mayor and me. I think I understand New York City. I understand a lot of the ups and downs we go through on a daily basis. That would make a difference to begin with the Mayor. As a student of the public school system I have a very different understanding. That’s just who I am.”
Thompson grew up in Brooklyn and said he was looking forward to a stepped up mayoral campaign for the opportunity to run the City.
“The election for Mayor is more than a year away,” he added. “As the campaign moves along we will get into more specifics. The primary is about 13 months away and there are going to be numerous opportunities.