By Jill Colvin
MANHATTAN — Firing former Schools Chancellor Cathie Black hasn't done much to improve Mayor Michael Bloomberg's grades on education.
A week after vowing to press ahead with plans to eliminate more than 6,000 teachers to close a multibillion-dollar budget gap, Bloomberg's approval ratings are still struggling, a new Quinnipiac University poll shows.
64 percent of those polled citywide said they disapprove of the way the mayor is handling city schools — the same rating as he had on March 16, before he ousted Black as schools chief. For those with kids in public schools, the numbers were even grimmer, with 78 percent disapproving of his schools performance.
"Mayor Mike, you said you wanted to be the 'Education Mayor,' but New Yorkers don't think you've learned how to do it. They give you a low grade on education and they think your takeover of the schools has been a flop," Maurice Carroll, director of the Quinnipiac University Polling Institute said in a statement.
"Even the removal of an historically unpopular schools chancellor doesn't seem to be moving the approval needle," he said.
Overall, the mayor's ratings are highest in Manhattan, where more than half of voters — 56 percent — approve of the way he's handling his job. But citywide, just 40 percent of those polled give the mayor a thumbs-up.
And despite his frequent school visits and self-proclaimed waffle-making prowess, nearly half of New Yorkers are still undecided about new Schools Chancellor Dennis Walcott. Of those who have decided, more approve of the job he's doing than disapprove. Half also expect him to improve the quality of education in city schools over the next three years.
"After just a few weeks in office, Schools Chancellor Dennis Walcott isn't getting rave reviews, but voters are hopeful," Carroll said.
As for the mayor, just 3 percent of those polled in Manhattan as well as 3 percent citywide believe his third term is going better than the first two, although a majority say that his involvement in national issues, including immigration reform and gun control, is good for the city.
A majority of Manhattan residents — 61 percent — also said they would prefer to raise taxes to balance the city's budget instead of cutting city services. Most also oppose layoffs for city workers, although those polled supported both furloughs and wage freezes.
An overwhelming majority — more than 80 percent — said that if teachers must be laid off, it should be based on performance, not seniority.
Bloomberg has been aggressively lobbying Albany lawmakers to change the 'last in, first out' seniority-based firing policy ahead of the promised layoffs.
The poll has a margin of error of plus or minus 3.2 percent.