New York: Legislature Close to a Deal on Renewing Mayoral Control

The legislature in New York is close to a final deal to permit mayoral control of the public schools for another year.

When Michael Bloomberg became Mayor of New York City, one of his first goals was to take control of the school system. He claimed he could get better results because of his experience as a businessman. The Board of Educationconsisted of seven members, one appointed by each of five borough presidents, and two appointed by the Mayor. The Mayor controlled the budget, so he was not powerless. The city was divided into 32 local community school districts, each of which had its own board. The community boards listened to parents’ complaints, but they didn’t have much power.

The legislature granted Bloomberg complete control of the school system. He got to appoint 8 of 13 school board members, who were told to follow the Mayor’s orders. He got to appoint the Chancellor of the school system, and he picked someone who knew as little about education as the Mayor, lawyer Joel Klein. The legislature gave him seven years of control. When the seven years expired, the legislature gave him another generous grant of power.

Mike Bloomberg is a very smart guy. He was the single biggest contributor to the campaign funds of the Republivan-controlled state senate.

After Bloomberg steps down, having served three terms, Bill De Blasio is elected. Unlike Bloomberg, he did not give money to Senate Republicans. He even tried to help fellow Democrats take control of the State Senate, and the Republican leaders never forgave him. Unlike Bloomberg, he was not a devotee of charter schoools. So the Senate gave him a one-year extension of mayoral control. They forced him to accept more charter schools and even to give them free space in the public schools that they competed with.

Now, once again, the State Senate is prepared to give De Blasio a one-year extension of mayoral control. But the head of the state senate, John Flanagan of Long Island, wants more charter schools. De Blasio said no. The State Assembly said no.

But according to Politico, a deal has finally been struck. What the charters really want is the power to hire uncertified teachers. Think of it: the charters want the power to hire uncertified teachers, and THIS IS CALLED “REFORM”?

John Flanagan, whose district has few or no charters, is able to get what he wants for the charter industry every year by holding mayoral control hostage.

Anyone who thinks that mayoral control is a panacea should be sure to check out Cleveland and Chicago. Both have mayoral control, and both are struggling.

from sarah


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