Sunday, March 2, 2008

Helen Marshall, Where Are You....

.... when it comes to appointing a Queens rep to the Panel for Educational Policy?

  • –Queens unrepresented for 3 months
  • –February PEP meeting was on the capital budget
  • –With Queens needing so many more schools, the borough had no one on the panel
  • –Education Notes editor throws hat into the ring

Who is Helen Marshall? She is the Queens Borough President whose responsibility it is to appoint a member of the PEP, the rubber stamp replacement for the old Board of Education. Since Bloomberg gets to choose the majority of members, the only chance for any representative voice on the Panel comes from the 5 borough president choices. Most of them use them as a political football to curry favor with Bloomberg, ie. Brooklyn's Marty Markowitz who wants to run for mayor and has been currying Bloomberg's support. Marty's rep used to be Martine Guerrier, for a while a decent choice (she voted against Bloomberg on 3rd grade retention at the Monday Night Massacre) but ended up being appointed to the $150,000 a year job as CEO of Parents, or something like that.

The lone exception has been Manhattan borough president Scott Stringer, who showed major guts in choosing Patrick Sullivan to bring the voice of parents, children (and teachers too) onto the Panel. A NY 1 story talks about how the Manhattan rep was the only member of the PEP to raise questions about the budget cuts.

Marshall has exhibited the spine of a political hack by refusing to give Queens a voice on the Panel for the past 3 months, a time major issues have been discussed, like the capital budget which is so crucial to the severely overcrowded schools in Queens. A perfect example of how the system of mayoral control without oversight has continued the use of the schools as political footballs. She is term-limited and will be stepping down at the end of 2009. Her successor should NOT be given the power to choose reps on whatever governance plan is put in place.

I will make sure to make this point when I speak at the City Council Governance hearings tomorrow (my birthday, by the way – can I give myself a better B-day present that to be able to slam BloomKlein in public? Well, getting a new computer helps too.)

I have decided to throw my hat into the ring for Queens PEP rep. I know, borough reps (though not the Bloomberg appointees) must have children in the schools. Anyone got an extra kid to spare? Or I'll just adopt.

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