August 5, 2009
To the great relief of City Hall and Tweed Courthouse, the New York state Senate intends to pass the Assembly’s version of mayoral control tomorrow. As part of the deal enabling this basic but, for the Senate, extraordinarily difficult accomplishment, senators will also take up four amendments that appeared on paper for the first time today.
The amendments include no surprises, and outline only slightly more detail about the agreement than had previously been disclosed.
Sponsored by Senator Shirley Huntley and several other senators, including Eric Adams, Martin Dilan, and Jose Serrano, the amendments would create a $1.6 million parent training center, an arts council, yearly school safety meetings, and an additional supervision requirement for superintendents. Democratic senators agreed to vote for the Assembly’s bill in return for the passage of these four amendments.
The newest details are in a bill to create a parent training center, which has already garnered some criticism from Assembly members. According to language in the bill, the center will have many arms, each of which are thinly outlined. While offering basic guidance to parents on how to enroll their children in special education or gifted programs, the center will also recruit parents for community education councils and school leadership teams. It also aims to support college counseling initiatives.
Housed at CUNY (though at which college the bill doesn’t say), the center will be nonpartisan. The state will fund the center and the city will match that funding up to, but not above $800,000.
Perhaps the slightest change to mayoral control is in the amendment to the school superintendents’ role, which adds the words “quality of curriculum and instruction” to the list of things a superintendent must consider when assessing principals. Another bill would establish yearly school safety meetings, but doesn’t say what should be done with the concerns raised at those meetings.
The amendment to create a council on the arts, which was heavily pushed for by Sen. Serrano and Sen. Sampson, would establish a council that, while purely advisory, would issue yearly reports on the status of arts education in the city’s public schools. The bill does not say how many members the council will have, or who will appoint them.