Thursday, June 18, 2009

We Told You So – Ed Notes on Mayoral Control, July 2001

For those confused by what appears to be flip flopping by the UFT on mayoral control, I have put up a piece I wrote for Ed Notes in July 2001 shortly after the UFT came out in favor while Giuliani was still mayor. Over the years, the UFT has tossed out all sorts of distractions for political purposes, but if you drill down, there has been no flip flopping. Thus, we were able to call the UFT task force on governance for what it was - a phony effort to create an illusion there was some democracy taking place. But when push came to shove, the UFT leadership even reversed some of the findings of their own task force. Throughout its history going back to the late 60's, the UFT, as a dictatorship itself, always preferred dealing one on one with another strong man, avoiding transparency and democracy.

Do Not Give This Mayor (or any Mayor) Control Over The School System

The plan put forth by our union leaders to give the Mayor effective control of the school system by allowing him to appoint 6 out of 11 members from an expanded Board of Education (to be chosen from a blue ribbon panel headed by the state education commissioner) puts us on a very dangerous path. Naturally, Mayor Giuliani, proving once again he is an ignoranus (see next page for a formal definition), immediately trashed the plan.

The arguments put forth at the June 4, 2001 Exec. Bd.* meeting focussed on the issue of making the Mayor accountable and creating common ground for providing resources to the schools. Results in other cities with Mayoral control were cited. It was also surmised that this plan would be a way to take some of the testing pressure off classroom teachers.

Ed. Notes contends that more pressure will be placed on classroom teachers as Mayors use test scores in their election campaigns. Given the choice, will these politicians put enough resources into classrooms to help children really learn? Or will they take the politically expedient way out by calling for more tests and more blame on teachers when children don’t produce? Allowing political forces to control what we teach and how we teach is already taking place. Mayoral control will only make the situation worse. We should be calling for the professionalization of teaching, which should give teachers more control over the schools, not less.

*That evening, after I emailed Randi my outrage, what had been a 4 year cordial relationship ended when she responded by basically calling me a mass murderer for being so critical of her.

Giuliani’s Response
Mayor Giuliani has responded to the UFT initiative offering Mayors control of the Board of Ed. by appointing Christyne Lategano Chancellor and replacing Judith Rizzo with Judith Nathan as Director of Instruction! Donna Hanover will be teaching 3rd grade in a SURR school in the south Bronx. Board of Ed. headquarters will be moved to the St. Regis Hotel.**

**OK! you had to witness the Giuliani Musical Beds board game to get all of this.

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