State lawmakers have introduced legislation that would repeal mayoral control of the city school system — a move that would undo one of Mayor Bloomberg’s crowning achievements, The Post has learned.
Sen. Velmanette Montgomery (D-Brooklyn) and Assemblyman Keith Wright (D-Harlem) claim that the 10-year experiment giving City Hall sole power over educational matters has been a failure.
And Montgomery has won the support of the ranking Democrat on the Senate Education Committee, Suzi Oppenheimer (D-Westchester), who has signed on as co-sponsor to the measure.
The mayoral control law is not up renewal until June 30, 2015. But under their bills, the two legislators call for overhauling the law this year.
“There’s a lot of support for reversing mayoral control and creating a more independent board in terms of setting educational policy and hiring the chancellor. This bill does that,” Montgomery said.
Of course City Hall says this bill is nothing but shillery for the UFT.
But that's not the reason why mayoral control should be repealed.
The reason mayoral control should be repealed is because the autocratic little businessman named Bloomberg has
a) run roughshod over students, parents, teachers, and administrators these past ten years by imposing his own policies regardless of the opinions, feelings or needs of anybody else - including people in the community
b) closed hundreds of schools in order to hand space in public school buildings to his charter school cronies like Eva Moskowitz
c) actually INCREASED the achievement gap on test scores between white and Asian students and black and Latino students while claiming he has done the opposite
d) corporatized the curriculum, standardized the bulletin boards and otherwise imposed a top-down, do it my way or hit the highway control system that stifles creativity in schools
e) spent hundreds of millions of dollars on corporate consultants while cutting 20% from actual school budgets
f) and most importantly, fetishized standardized testing to such a degree that students in the next few years will take as many as 35 high stakes standardized tests a year that will not mean anything for them but could mean firings for their teachers and closing for their schools
Those are just a few reasons off the top of my head why mayoral control should be ended.
One more just came to mind.
The mayor and his DOE are getting set to close the 25 SIG schools, fire 50% of the teachers (thus adding them to the ATR pool) and reopen the schools the next day with new names and new teachers - a move that will probably cost $100 million before all is said and done - not because Bloomberg wants to improve education for the children in those schools (indeed, the school closure meetings show students do NOT want these schools closed) but simply to punish the UFT for not agreeing to every component he wanted in the new teacher evaluation system.
And of course because Bloomberg has dictatorial control of the system, he can do this without regard for anybody else.
I can't think of a better symbol for why mayoral control should be ended.
So the new legislation adds some accountability for the mayor:
Making the PEP board something other a rubber stamp for the mayor would go a long way toward putting the "public" back into the public education system in NYC.
“It’s been a very unpopular process having this top-down decision-making with no one able to weigh in. Having a singular authority with total power on all the decisions has not worked out for all of the children,” Montgomery said.
Montgomery’s bill would strip the mayor’s control over school policy by cutting his appointments to the 13-member citywide school board in half, from eight to four members. The City Council would appoint four members and the borough presidents one apiece.
And the board, rather than the mayor, would select the chancellor.
Wright’s slightly different bill would create a nine-member board with just two appointed by the mayor. Five others would be named by the borough presidents and one apiece by the state education commissioner and City Council.
Expect the usual suspects - the ones who make tons of money off the mayor's reforms like Moskowitz and General Geoffrey Canada and the KIPPsters - to scream holy hell about this.
But as Valerie Strauss pointed out in her Washington Post blog today, sometimes the reformers who scream the loudest about helping the kids are the ones making the most money.
And so it is here in NYC too.
It's time to end mayoral control, time to end the public trough for the charter networks that expropriates resources from the communities and gives it to the privatizers.
It's time to put the "public" back into the public schools system.