Thursday, June 18, 2009

Sam Anderson on What's Next in the Mayoral Control Battle

While there are some aspects of Anderson's piece that I would disagree with, he makes a strong argument for rejecting tweaks and opposing mayoral control outright.

"Don't Mourn-ORGANIZE!" Our Struggle Must Continue-- Stronger than Ever

As has been expected for the past month, the politically dysfunctional NY State Assembly was thoroughly bought off by a combination of Bloomberg's promise of a few crumbs and lack of confidence in neighborhood-parent-teacher-student control over NYC's vast and complex public education system. The Assembly vote (see article below) where only about 14% of the elected officials voted against Mayoral Control indicates how weak we progressives are. We could not rally mass parental and community support to such an extent that it would overwhelm the typical unprincipled political maneuvers and Bloomberg's spreading of mere promises of money and connections.

The landslide victory for mayoral control also shows the overwhelming power of corporate media shaping the issues and debate. And these are not only Bloomberg's friends... there are, more importantly, class allies who are very conscious of their class. In addition, the UFT leadership has consistently aligned itself with Bloomberg's ruling class... abandoning their primary union purpose of serving the educators of our children first. It now appears that Randi Weingarten has done her work and is moving on to the national level and leaving another white labor aristocrat to continue selling out NYC's educators, children and parents for the sake of proximity with those who rule.

We have a lot of work to do over the summer and fall of this year. We first need to have a public forum assessing our work with all its warts and blemishes. The WE I'm talking about is made up of all of us who fought against mayoral control of public education--- NOT the tweakers. They are, of course, invited to listen and raise questions. But, our fight against mayoral control is far from over and we need to be self critical and clear on how we move our fight for Parent/Student/Educator POWER over public education. Those handful of principled and brave elected officials should be invited to join us in this public assessment forum... and be urged to help us think about how we move forward to defeat mayoral dictatorship.

Rest assure: Come the 2009-10 school year, there will be more educational disasters erupting throughout our public school system. There will be another major re-organization of how Bloomberg-Chancellor X will "govern." I say Chancellor X, because, Klein will most likely move on to push the national campaign for mayoral control of predominantly Black and Brown public schools for the sake of privatization of public education and racist control over the urban majority. In other words, we will definitely have issues to fight against in the coming months. They will be crisis-ridden and ranging from individual parent-student-educator issues to dictatorial citywide policies that continue to promote institutional racism, hundreds of millions spent on no bid contracts, further morphing of our schools into pre-prisons, and bum rushing even more corporate/church sponsored charter schools throughout Black & Latino neighborhood schools.

Those who fought for a more democratic form of school governance have been defeated in this battle. But the WAR is far from over! One of the lessons we should learn is that we cannot just focus on school governance. We have to take on and envision the whole nature of what is the purpose of education and public education. Years ago, at the very beginning of the Bloomberg reign over our schools, some of us began to think about this and came to the conclusion that: "Education is a Human Right." And that governance flows from one's vision of education....

If you are a Bloomberg, your vision of education is about profit maximization and confining and preparing Black & Brown children for their subservient or penal role in your capitalist society. Hence, you construct a governance structure that guarantee this outcome.

Our next stage of our battle to seize power over our schools must be embedded within a vision of a democratic, antiracist, neighborhood-centered, student/parent/educator empowered school system. Without this vision at the very center of our work, we will, once again, merely react to the actions of mayoral dictatorship.

in Struggle,

Sam Anderson

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