October 7, 2008
Kicking off a series of essays about mayoral control on the blog of Public Advocate Betsy Gotbaum is historian Diane Ravitch, who has been studying New York’s schools since Michael Bloomberg was just starting out at Salomon Brothers. In recent years, Ravitch has emerged as one of the DOE’s most outspoken critics, particularly about the its sometimes unreliable data, so it shouldn’t be surprising that she thinks the State Assembly should legislate greater oversight of the department. She writes:
When the school system is controlled by one elected official, there is a temptation to “hype” the scores, as we have seen in the past few years. The best way to assure accurate information about whether the school system is making progress is to establish an independent auditing agency—one whose reputation does not rest on whether scores go up or down–to verify what is happening in the schools.
… The Public Advocate’s oversight is not enough. We need a school system that is run by education professionals, that encourages open discussion and public review, that is accountable to parents and the public on a regular basis—not just once every four years—and whose results are transparent and accurate.