Posts tagged "Campaign for Better Schools"
July 28, 2009
One outcome of Albany’s debate over mayoral control may have nothing to do with state law. The political wrangling may end up leaving the city with permanent parent advocacy groups.
Last Friday, Democratic state senators reached a deal with Mayor Bloomberg (that may or may not pass), essentially ending the drawn-out negotiations. Yet groups that were in the thick of the political fight just last week are intent on remaining active, even if the mayoral control debate has largely ended.
Learn NY, which was set up roughly a year ago by allies of the Bloomberg administration to campaign for mayoral control’s renewal, will continue to exist until the Senate passes a bill bringing mayoral control back. After that, the group’s future is uncertain.
Learn NY spokeswoman Julie Wood refused to comment in greater detail.
On the opposite side of the debate are groups like the Campaign for Better Schools, the 3Rs Coalition, and the Parent Commission on School Governance, all of which advocated for significant changes to the 2002 school governance law, but favored keeping mayoral control in place. Each them face their own existential questions. (more…)
July 17, 2009
Bloomberg administration officials are ending a sleepless week in Albany today with no idea whatsoever of how to get mayoral control renewed, along with the unsettling realization that the stalemate could go on for the rest of the summer.
In the end, it wasn’t that the mayor’s office couldn’t strike a deal with the largest group criticizing mayoral control, the Campaign for Better Schools, or with the city teachers’ union, which had pushed for checks early on. All three parties signed onto a deal together earlier this week, writing down a Memorandum of Understanding that would have put in place parent-training centers that senators said they wanted to add.
But Senate Democrats ultimately did not go along with the deal.
“It’s not like we couldn’t agree on terms. It’s like they couldn’t agree on terms amongst themselves,” an exhausted and depressed city official, speaking on background, said in an interview today.
“They clearly were saying one thing to us yesterday and doing something different,” said teachers union president Randi Weingarten. “That was very frustrating.” (more…)
July 8, 2009
The Senate may be nearing an agreement on mayoral control, but now there’s a new debate — over how to increase parental involvement, and what involvement means.
At the center of the debate are the two parent groups most actively lobbying Albany, and each has its own slightly different vision.
The Parent Commission on School Governance is pushing for a kind of parent union, which it calls an Independent Parent Organization and Training Academy.
According to Patricia Connelly, a member of the Parent Commission, the organization would act like a think tank-cum-lobbying force for parent advocate groups and would be modeled on the now-defunct United Parent Association.
“It can be a place where people come together and learn from one another,” Connelly said, adding that the group would also do research and train less experienced parents.
“Right now we don’t have an institutionalized role and people say well there’s OFEA [Office of Family Engagement and Advocacy], but that’s just an arm of the Department of Education and it’s more about delivering PowerPoint presentations rather than what we really need to know to be effective advocates,” she said. (more…)
June 30, 2009
As Governor Paterson and Mayor Bloomberg warn of “total chaos” and ominous “uncharted territory” if mayoral control expires tonight, another, less-frenzied possibility is emerging. The possibility hinges on the success of efforts underway right now to produce a compromise mayoral control bill in the Senate, according to a spokesman for the Campaign for Better Schools, which is pushing a compromise.
A compromise would find a middle ground between the bill introduced by state Senator Frank Padavan, with the support of Mayor Bloomberg, and the one introduced by Senator John Sampson, the Democratic leader in the state Senate, who favors adding checks to the mayor’s power. But it would still mean the June 30 deadline would pass without a new school governance law to replace it.
That’s because in order to become law, both houses of the legislature have to vote for the same bill. But a compromise bill would be different from the one the Assembly passed two weeks ago.
“Our point is that schools will open up as usual tomorrow, even if mayoral control expires,” said the spokesman, Shomwa Shamapande. “Let’s get the legislation right and make sure parents have a voice.”
Shamapande would not disclose details of the talks he said are underway, saying he does not want to jeopardize the effort. I asked him if he is confident the talks will produce a compromise. “We’re hopeful. I’m not going to go with confident,” he said. (more…)
June 29, 2009
The mayor and chancellor say a post-mayoral control world would be fraught with litigation. But it’s not clear who would be filing the lawsuits.
Some of the most obvious potential litigants said today that as long as Mayor Bloomberg follows the new law, they want to stay out of court. They say they will trust that Mayor Bloomberg plans to respect the current law’s expiration if a new city school board is convened on Wednesday. That board would have only two mayoral appointees.
“If the mayor acts in good faith on that measure, at least changing the structure on top, then I think its wrong to foresee any potential litigation,” said Udi Ofer, the policy director of the New York Civil Liberties Union, which has been agnostic on the principle of mayoral control.
But a DOE official said the city is worried most about litigation coming not from good-government groups but from individual teachers, principals, and vendors with gripes against the system.
“Every decision has a winner and a loser, and a loser would argue that the person who made the decision didn’t have the authority to do it,” the official said. For example, a teacher who was fired could argue that the principal who initiated his termination was not legally appointed, the official suggested. (more…)
June 16, 2009
ALBANY, NY — One branch of the state government is functioning today. Lawmakers in the Assembly pushed Silver’s mayoral control bill through the ways and means committee this afternoon, readying the bill for a final vote tomorrow.
The bill immediately passed with no discussion. At least three Assembly members voted against Silver’s plan, including Mark Weprin and Jeff Aubry of Queens and Deborah Glick of Manhattan.
Aubry said he was concerned that the bill did not place fixed terms on members of the citywide school board and that it gives the mayor a majority of the appointees to the Panel for Educational Policy. Both he and Glick are supporters of the “Better Schools Act.”
Tomorrow, the Assembly will vote on the bill, and even its most vocal critics agree that its passage is guaranteed.
UPDATE 2 (from Elizabeth): Billy Easton of the Campaign for Better Schools points out that nothing is final, even if the Assembly bill passes. “Tomorrow is an Assembly vote on their initial proposal,” he said. “That does not mean that that’s the final vote that they will take on this matter. We have to see what unfolds.” Easton added that lobbyists for the campaign are meeting with members from both the Assembly and the Senate.
Exactly how negotiations between the two houses will unfold, however, is almost impossible to figure out. Anna reports from Albany that she only persuaded one senator to talk to her about mayoral control today — and his response was to say, “It can’t stay the way it is,” and walk away laughing. (more…)
June 15, 2009
Randi Weingarten’s participation in a press conference today beside two groups who’d like to see changes in Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver’s mayoral control bill doesn’t mean that she’s going to fight for those changes, too. Weingarten is being overall “very positive” about the bill, a union lobbyist in Albany told me.
“It would be very unlikely that we would oppose, because we think there’s so much good in here,” the lobbyist in Albany told me. “It would only be whether or not to issue a memo in support.”
Weingarten is still hoping that a parent initiative will get added into the law, and she met with lawmakers today to promote the idea, the lobbyist said. She and the other two groups are asking the state to fund a separate organization or initiative that would give parents a voice in the policy discussion. The idea is similar to one Weingarten endorsed in a speech last year, when she urged a community coalition that had fought budget cuts to become a permanent organization.
The clarification of her participation follows confusion among lawmakers about exactly where Weingarten stands on mayoral control, a state legislator told me today. (more…)
June 5, 2009
Rev. Al Sharpton is scheduled to host a key critic of mayoral control on his radio show tomorrow morning, in what will be the same talk that he postponed last week.
The importance of parental input in decisions about public schools will be a main topic, said Zakiyah Ansari, a parent organizer and member of the Campaign for Better Schools who will be Sharpton’s guest. A press notice about the talk says that Sharpton will join Ansari in calling on state lawmakers to build parental input into a new school governance law.
Ansari told me on the phone today that she hopes to form a “partnership” with Sharpton on the issue, though she said she’s not sure exactly what such a collaboration would entail.
Sharpton has previously said that he clashes with a more concrete partner of his, Schools Chancellor Joel Klein, on the issue of mayoral control, favoring more checks and balances than Klein. The two together formed the Education Equality Project, a national advocacy network that pushes changes to public schools of the sort Klein has promoted in New York City.
But this could all get trickier if Sharpton ends up formalizing a partnership with Ansari’s group, too. The thing to watch will be exactly what kinds of changes to the 2002 mayoral control law Sharpton endorses.
Details on tomorrow’s radio show are below the jump: (more…)
May 29, 2009
Rev. Al Sharpton invited one of the strongest opponents of mayoral control onto his live radio broadcast tomorrow morning.
This is not the first time the reverend has publicly distanced himself from Schools Chancellor Joel Klein’s support for mayoral control. In April, at a conference for their shared group, the Education Equality Project, Sharpton ceded the floor to Assemblyman Charles Barron, who called for ending mayoral control of the schools. (Barron also called for Mayor Bloomberg to fire Klein.) Sharpton said he invited Barron because he wants the Education Equality Project to “hear all views.”
The appearance was postponed late this afternoon in light of the recent police shooting. Instead, Sharpton will devote his radio broadcast to a vigil for the slain officer and will address mayoral control at a later date. (more…)
May 20, 2009
State lawmakers from New York City are rushing to register their views on mayoral control before a deal is finalized over the future of school governance in the city. One piece of legislation introduced today would gut the mayor’s school power, and it has already amassed a robust roster of supporters.
The ”Better Schools Act,” introduced today in both the Assembly and State Senate, would turn into law many of the recommendations made by the Campaign for Better Schools, the coalition of community groups which is calling for control over the city school board to be taken away from the mayor. The bill’s lead sponsor in the Assembly is, as I reported on Monday, Carl Heastie of the Bronx, and he has 15 co-sponsors in the Assembly and eight for an identical bill in the State Senate.
Here’s the laundry list of bill supporters, from the Campaign for Better Schools’ press release:
Sponsors include Assembly Members Jeff Aubry, Inez Barron, William F. Boyland, Jr., Nelson Castro, William Colton, Vivian Cook, Deborah Glick, Carl Heastie, Janelle Hyer-Spencer, Hakeem Jeffries, David Koon, Grace Meng, Nick Perry, Linda Rosenthal, Matthew Titone and Keith L. Wright. And Senators Ruben Diaz, Sr., Ruth Hassell-Thompson, Shirley Huntley, Velmanette Montgomery, Kevin Parker, Bill Perkins, John Sampson and Diane Savino
Meanwhile, members of the Parent Commission on School Governance, which is also calling for substantial curbs on the mayor’s school control, are working on lining up sponsors for a bill to support the commission’s recommendations. A member told me today that Assemblyman Daniel O’Donnell of the Upper West Side has agreed to sponsor the bill, and that the group is close to narrowing in on a State Senate sponsor as well, with a goal of having legislation introduced early next week.