Spin Cycle

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School-exam backlash on display in NYC mayoral race

Because New York City constitutes one massive school district -- controlled by one powerful mayor -- the race to succeed Michael Bloomberg looms large for its education system, and indirectly, the state's.

In election forums around the city this season, candidates for mayor are reliably rewarded with applause when they rebuke current exam practices -- echoing a similar sense of parental "opt-out" backlash on Long Island and around the region.

Before a Democratic club in Manhattan last week, Public Advocate Bill de Blasio said the schools "must simply stop teaching to the test. The school system is praying to a false idol of standardized testing."

Former City Comptroller Bill Thompson, who also once led the now-defunct Board of Education, later declared: "For years I've said that standardized testing, the way it's being used, and this focus on teaching to the test, is a mistake."

And former high-school teacher and City Councilman Sal Albanese said: "I don't believe in high-stakes testing. We all support ending that."

Even Council Speaker Christine Quinn (D-Manhattan), long allied with Bloomberg, has talked about a reduced emphasis on testing, as has Comptroller John Liu.

How all that may work against state and federal systems and requirements these days remains to be seen.

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