Posts tagged "who should rule the schools"
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 17, 2009
Listen to the segment in its entirety right here:
A fuming Mayor Michael R. Bloomberg said that state troopers should “drag” senators back to Albany — by force, if necessary – if they leave for the summer without voting on a bill to preserve his control of New York City’s schools.
During his weekly radio show, an incredulous Mr. Bloomberg – who seemed to question the intelligence of individual senators by name – said that those holding up the legislation “want to ruin the schools.”
“You wonder what goes through their heads,” he said, adding that the time for negotiations over mayoral control had passed. “It’s over. It’s stopped. You just can’t do that.”
Liz Benjamin has more:
“This is what he should do,” Bloomberg said of Paterson, noting that he has been “defending” the governor throughout the Senate stalemate. “Giving them the summer off is as we say in Gallic, ‘Meshugenah’”.
July 1, 2009
A day after mayoral control’s expiration, the Board of Education has been resurrected, but there are no signs of life for community school boards.
Instead, the Department of Education is planning to continue the Community Education Councils — despite the fact that they no longer legally exist. These parent councils replaced school boards in 2003 and, with the law’s expiration, have been legally stripped of their authority and responsibilities.
Chancellor Joel Klein, who was voted back into office unanimously today by the new Board of Education, sent a memo to principals today outlining his plans for the CECs. He said he is urging the CECs to continue meeting “at least until September when we hope to have more clarity.”
“If the Councils decide not to continue their work, we’ve asked them to notify us immediately,” Klein wrote.
The decision to create of a Board of Education and vote in a chancellor while leaving the rest of the power structure as it was under mayoral control has divided the system into old and new. The school system’s top half is in compliance with pre-2002 law, while its lower quarters legally don’t exist. (more…)
July 1, 2009
As borough presidents prepared to gather at Gracie Mansion to convene a new-old Board of Education last night, city principals received a newsletter in which the biggest news had to do with kindergarten waiting lists.
No mention whatsoever of mayoral control’s expiration.
Here’s the weekly newsletter: (more…)
June 30, 2009
In the past week, we have interviewed dozens of people and undertaken headache-inducing reviews of state education law.
That reporting informs the following guide to what will happen if — or, as seems increasingly likely, when — the 2002 mayoral control law expires tonight at midnight:
1. The borough presidents and the mayor would convene a new city Board of Education. The current law says that, starting June 30, 2009 (which technically is today),
The board of education of the city school district of the city of New York is hereby continued. Such board of education shall consist of seven members, a member to be appointed by each borough president of the city of New York and two by the mayor.
One borough president has already appointed his member; others say their appointments are on the way. But it’s not entirely clear that Mayor Bloomberg will go along with creating a new Board of Education. If he does, he will appoint two members, too. If not, the governance structure of the city school could land in court.
2. The Board of Education members would elect a president among themselves and begin receiving salaries. State law requires that the president of the board be paid $20,000 a year and other members receive $15,000.
3. The Board of Education would select a chancellor. Chancellor Joel Klein’s contract, which is simply a letter from Mayor Bloomberg dated November 2002, would expire with mayoral control. Under the pre-2002 law,
The office of chancellor of the city district is hereby continued. It shall be filled by a person employed by the city board by contract for a term not to exceed by more than one year the term of office of the city board authorizing such contract, subject to removal for cause. The chancellor shall receive a salary to be fixed by the city board within the budgetary allocation therefor.
All but one borough president has suggested he or she would recommend keeping Klein, so it’s fair to assume that Klein would remain chancellor, should he accept the offer. He’d just have a new contract (and maybe a new salary).
4. The Board would figure out how to make money flow. Now and under the pre-2002 law, the Board of Education has final say over the city school system’s purse strings. But the simple act of letting mayoral control expire would alter the school budget, and so a reconstituted Board of Education could end up having to approve a new budget for next year.
The board could also decide that it wanted to re-approve — or revise — the current school budget. It would also have to make sure to approve (or vote down) any looming contracts.
Bloomberg administration officials argue that a system vaulted back to the pre-2002 law would cost more money to operate. They estimate the costs of running the community school districts as they used to function is $340 million. Some of that is currently covered in superintendent salaries, which constitute about $5 million of the city budget right now, not including benefits. But other parts are not.
The $110,000 in salaries for Board of Education members would also be an added cost; members of the current Board of Education, known as the Panel for Educational Policy, do not receive salaries.
Other sources said that costs would be minimal. They said there’s no reason the community superintendents could not continue to exist on their current budgets. The 2002 law did not get rid of the community school districts, and it listed much of the same responsibilities for superintendents as had existed before 2002. (In practice, the Bloomberg administration assigned superintendents other roles.)
5. Community school boards would form. According to the old law, elections for school board members cannot be held until May of 2010. There are several ways to jump-start community school boards sooner. In one scenario, the chancellor would appoint interim members, known as trustees, to take the place of the 32 school boards that existed up until 2003. This was routinely done before mayoral control when school boards had vacant seats or were deemed dysfunctional.
Department of Education officials interpret the law differently. In a memo outlining what will happen if mayoral control expires, officials said that the chancellor cannot name trustees unless a board member has violated a law. A school official also pointed out that the concept of trustees seems to be absent from the state education law.
Another scenario would have the DOE go to court to get a ruling permitting the Community Education Councils to function as the school boards once did.
The school boards become even thornier if elections are held. In an e-mail to a parent today, obtained by GothamSchools, the executive director of the city’s Board of Elections, Marcus Cederqvist, said that the Department of Justice might have to give a “pre-clearance” before elections could occur. DOJ requires pre-clearances for changes in election procedures.
6. District superintendents would be appointed. The city currently has 32 community superintendents, but under the pre-2002 law, the superintendents would have to hold a contract with the community school boards.
The Department of Education has argued that the impossibility of convening school boards would make community superintendents unlawful. But others familiar with the pre-2002 situation said that superintendents could easily be re-appointed.
They said this could happen in one of two ways. Either the community school boards would select superintendents — likely the ones already in place — or the chancellor could go over the head of the boards and appoint superintendents himself.
These superintendents would have hiring and firing power and would oversee the opening of summer school tomorrow.
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 30, 2009
No one can accuse Bronx borough president Ruben Diaz Jr. of being unprepared for the possibility that mayoral control will expire tonight. Diaz just named his potential appointee to the theoretical Board of Education.
That person is Dr. Dolores Fernandez, a professor of urban education at CUNY’s Graduate Center who retired as president of Hostos Community College in 2008.
Fernandez’s appointment will become effective at midnight tonight if the 2002 mayoral control law expires and the Senate does not pass a law to replace it.
Diaz said in a statement today that he is “a supporter of some form of mayoral control.” Asked if Diaz would recommend that his appointee to the board vote to retain Joel Klein as chancellor, John DeSio, a spokesman for the borough president, would not comment yesterday. “He has mixed opinions on the chancellor,” DeSio said.
Fernandez could not immediately be reached for comment. In a release put out by Diaz’s office, she said:
“For me, it is an honor to be thought of by Borough President Diaz to represent The Bronx on the Board of Education. I look forward to serving our borough, and its children, in an admirable and professional way.”
Between 1988 and 1990, Fernandez was deputy chancellor for instruction and development for the Board of Education. She served under chancellor Richard Green, the system’s first black chancellor, who died suddenly a year into his tenure of an asthma attack, leaving the school system in disarray. Fernandez has a Master’s in Education and a professional diploma in Educational Administration.
The full press release follows. (more…)
June 30, 2009
As Governor Paterson said he will give the state Senate a last chance to operate at 7 o’clock tonight, Mayor Bloomberg outlined his plan for what happens if mayoral control expires at midnight. The plan was, by his own admission, murky and short on details.
First, he said, “the lawyers take over in New York City”:
Every decision – from personnel decisions to policy decisions — will be subject to litigation and uncertainty. That’s no ways to run a school system. It will be like a nightmare flashback to the days when politics ruled the schools and our children suffered the consequences.
Governor Paterson echoed Bloomberg’s concerns, saying that if mayoral control expires the city’s public schools will descend into “total chaos.”
Bloomberg, speaking via satellite from City Hall at a press conference in Albany, said he will work to “shield the system from the chaos the Senate is experiencing and is planning to inflict on city schoolchildren”:
Make no mistake about it: We will not allow our schools to be padlocked or summer school to be canceled. Summer school starts tomorrow, no ifs ands or buts. The kids that are going to summer school need help. And we are going to provide it.
We’ll keep things running to the best of our ability and deal with questions as they arise, that is our responsibility. But we are going into uncharted territory, and there’s no crystal ball. Our job will be to try to shield new york children and their parents from the chaos to the best of our ability and continue to press the Senate for action.
June 30, 2009
Mayor Bloomberg refused to take questions on mayoral control at a press conference this morning, and two school-related groups staged protests outside City Hall and Tweed Courthouse without addressing the 2002 law directly.
That’s despite the fact that mayoral control is set to expire in 12 hours if the state Senate doesn’t pass legislation today. With the Senate still locked in a court battle, chances of a resolution look dimmer by the minute — and a reconstituted Board of Education looks more and more likely.
Bloomberg said he will address the small matter of the deadlocked legislature at 12:30 today, at a press conference where he will virtually appear next to Governor Paterson, who is in Albany.
Meanwhile, a group including the New York Civil Liberties Union and Sikh community members demanded more protection from discrimination this morning, in a protest outside the Department of Education’s Tweed Courthouse headquarters. The group accused the DOE of not enforcing a regulation that is supposed to protect children from discriminating against each other in school.
Donna Lieberman, executive director of the NYCLU, said the issue relates directly to mayoral control. The NYCLU has argued the current mayoral control law wrongly insulates the school system from following city law. “The refusal of the DOE to protect kids has to be looked at in the context of mayoral control,” Lieberman told our Anna Phillips, who is at City Hall this morning. (The Assembly’s version of a revised mayoral control law does not clarify whether the Department of Education must follow city law, as NYCLU advocated.) (more…)
June 30, 2009
With mayoral control set to expire in just 15 hours, some are developing contingency plans. Others are planning to party.
A group is planning to celebrate the end of mayoral control with a party in the park next to the Department of Education’s Manhattan headquarters, beginning at the perhaps-premature hour of 4:30 p.m. The law does not expire until midnight.
The event’s organizer, Nicola DeMarco, told me he expects between 25 and 50 people to join him at the party, which will conclude at midnight when the group tries to symbolically evict Schools Chancellor Joel Klein from Tweed Courthouse.
DeMarco has been teaching in the city since 1994 and is currently assigned to a teacher reassignment center, sometimes called “the rubber room.” He said the main point of the event is for teachers and parents to share their experiences living under mayoral control. “We’ve all been impacted by the scorch-and-burn policy to raise test scores,” he said.
Below is the press announcement that I received (from multiple people) yesterday: (more…)