Bill Thompson for mayor

Elinor Tatum | 4/12/2011, 4:38 p.m.

The choice is clear. New York needs Bill Thompson to be mayor, and Bill Thompson needs our votes to beat the man who thinks he has been elected mayor for life.

Bill Thompson is a good man, an honest man, a true New Yorker who believes in the people of this city and the city itself. New York is a living, breathing thing with many moving parts. We have the rich and the poor, the working class, the underemployed and the unemployed. We have those who live in palatial apartments and those who live in cardboard boxes. We have a New York of the haves and have-nots and the have-somes.

Ours is truly a city of contradictions, a city of many passions, hopes and fears, but most of all, a city of people who believe that New York--with all its warts and scars--is still the greatest city on earth.

Bill Thompson was born in New York. The son of a New York City public school teacher and a New York State Supreme Court judge, he saw firsthand what New York was and is all about. A child of Brooklyn, he went to the public schools, he rode the trains and he has made New York his home for his entire life.

As a product of the public schools, he knows how important a public education is, and as president of the Board of Education, he fought for the rights of our children and our right to have a voice in their education.

He was unanimously elected to five terms as president of the Board of Education, beginning in 1996. While president, he worked to raise student achievement, the standards of our schools and the accountability of them. He wanted to make sure parents had a say in their children's education. During his tenure, we saw an increase in reading scores and the opening of the first charter school in this city. In addition, he brought back the arts to our schools after a 25-year absence.

The Mike Bloomberg campaign claims that he helped free $350 million from the school bureaucracy, putting the funds directly into the schools. But what he fails to mention is that there was money that came into New York schools during his tenure that had little to do with his or his administration's efforts.

In the 1990s, The Campaign for Fiscal Equity sued the State of New York to make sure that New York City schools got sufficient funding to provide students with their constitutional right to a sound, basic education. Before that lawsuit, the New York City school system and it students always seemed to get the short end of the stick when it came to funding in the state. Wealthier surrounding suburbs seemed to get the lion's share of the state's largesse. And we knew of far too many stories of crumbling, outdated schools, especially in communities of color. It was a long and tough fight, and Bill Thomson was instrumental in winning. As president of the Board of Education during those battle years with the state, he helped to provide the ammunition that eventually led to the restructuring of the state's school funding. He helped to make New York City schools better, safer learning environments.