At a New School, a Math Lesson From the Mayor

Mayor Michael R. Bloomberg and Schools Chancellor Dennis M. Walcott arrived at the New Settlement Community Campus in the Bronx on Thursday morning alongside a parade of navy-and-white uniforms, Spiderman and Hello Kitty backpacks and parents dropping their children off at kindergarten for the first time. (“Once your child has reached the classroom and you give them one last hug and kiss you will be directed to the back exit,” read a notice to kindergarten parents posted on the school’s door.)

It was not only the first day of the school year for the new elementary, middle and high schools that share the building, but also the first day ever. Mr. Bloomberg and Mr. Walcott made their first stop a ninth-grade algebra class of students who would become members of the high school’s first graduating class in 2016, who looked on, mildly bemused, as the mayor, who graduated from high school in 1960, explained his love of math.

“Math, I always thought was easy,” he told the class, which had been listening to a lecture about the commutative property before the mayor’s entourage descended on the classroom. “Because there’s a right and a wrong answer. Who likes math?”

None of the students raised hands. “No,” muttered Fatimata Konteh, 14, who sat in the last row.

The mayor went on to explain the concept of a slide rule. “You all have calculators now, though,” he said.

When Mr. Bloomberg had left for a kindergarten class, where he was to observe a reading of “Marco Goes to School” by Roz Chast, Mr. Walcott stayed behind to introduce himself to students. One girl hastily stopped doodling a heart on her notebook and dropped her pen to shake his hand.

“Do you know who he is?” a reporter asked her.

She shook her head.

“No? That’s O.K.,” Mr. Walcott said.

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