BLOOMBERG Mayor Faults Education Minority Kids Receive

New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg, left, speaks to the Rev. Sammie Jones, a member of the National Urban League of St. Louis's board of directors, during lunch in the Missouri city.
New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg, left, speaks to the Rev. Sammie Jones, a member of the National Urban League of St. Louis's board of directors, during lunch in the Missouri city. (By Jeff Roberson -- Associated Press)
Thursday, July 26, 2007

BLOOMBERG Mayor Faults Education Minority Kids Receive

In the latest stop in his undeclared presidential exploration, New York Mayor Michael R. Bloomberg yesterday appeared on traditionally Democratic turf -- a conference of the National Urban League -- to discuss the failure of America's education system to improve the performance of minority children.

"Today, black and Latino 12th-graders, who should be reading college catalogs, are reading at the same level as white eighth-graders," the mayor told the group's convention in St. Louis, according to prepared remarks.

Bloomberg cast the education problems as part of a larger crisis resulting from Washington's ineffectiveness, a message he has repeatedly offered over the last month since abandoning the Republican Party to become an independent -- a move that fueled speculation about his 2008 plans.

Bloomberg directly rebuked several Democratic candidates who have criticized the federal No Child Left Behind law for inadequate spending. And he laid out an agenda that includes several items opposed by teachers' unions, a major backer of Democrats, including making it easier to fire ineffective teachers, offering bonus pay for teachers and principals whose students perform well on tests, and even denying tenure to teachers whose students do not do well.

-- Perry Bacon Jr.

OBAMA ON THE AIRWAVES Campaign Begins Round Of Radio Ads in S.C.

Three declared Democratic candidates -- Sens. Hillary Rodham Clinton (N.Y.) and Barack Obama (Ill.) and former senator John Edwards (N.C.) will also be speaking at the Urban League conference, looking to woo influential African Americans.

But the most important blacks in the 2008 presidential process live in South Carolina. And that's who Obama's campaign is targeting with a series of ads that started yesterday and will air on 36 black and gospel radio stations in the state.

The 60-second spot, called "It's Time," features an announcer uttering that phrase, then includes excerpts from Obama's speeches. In them, he makes explicit racial references, such as "we have more work to do when the black incidences of HIV/AIDS and diabetes and every other illness is multiple times higher than the rest of the population," and "we have more work to do when more young black men languish in prison than attend colleges and universities across America."

About half of South Carolina's Democratic primary voters are black, making it the first major test of Obama's appeal among African Americans. Polls in the state have differed on the exact state of the contest there, but observers say Clinton and Obama are running about even.


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