Wednesday, July 1, 2009

The Ed Notes Governance Plan: The Battle Just Begins

Soon after the riots ended, people started dancing in the streets at midnight. Ok, take off those dancing shoes. Nothing much in terms of the power structure really changes. The overwhelming majority of teachers and parents had little power before mayoral control. They had even less in the earlier round of mayoral control before 1967 and they will have little power in whatever will be coming.

Already the borough presidents are getting along, going along. Some groups were pushing governance plans that gave these useless clowns more of a role. Now they will see the fruits of that policy.

The suck-ass UFT is still the suck-ass UFT.

If there really is a reversion to elected community school boards, we will see the old local political machines which have been lurking in the background jump back in to take control.

A governance model that can really have a chance to work is to give the individual schools some level of autonomy.

What, you say? Didn't Joel Klein do that by destroying the districts and then the regions and creating autonomy zones? I actually liked Klein's concept of having power reside at the school level. But that is not what Klein really did.

First of all, he empowered principals in a limited way so they could spend the money with more freedom. But they were still fettered (is that a word?) to a narrow system of rewards and punishments based on standardized tests. Thus their empowerment existed in a straight jacket.

But the real point is that principals were totally empowered over teachers - with the assistance of the UFT, of course. Whatever checks and balances that existed at the school level between those schools where the UFT chapter was active (very few actually) or where individual teachers were willing to stand up, has been totally destroyed. Funny, how we never hear about restoring those checks and balances.

Thus, under BloomKlein, school communities as an entity, which include parents and teachers, were not empowered. In reality, by putting all the school-level power in the hands of one person, who often turned out to be incompetent or a monster, and backing that person to the hilt (until they assault someone) BloomKlein disempowered school communities.

Well, to be clear, as a teacher under that old system for 35 years, the principals were still mainly all powerful, especially the ones who knew how to manage and intimidate teachers and parents.

What has never been tried is to give teachers and parents real power by allowing them to choose the school leaders from a list of approved choices by the state.

What about the districts? Klein destroyed the geographical concept of districts by creating super networks. That just doesn't work. Even at the region level which consisted of contiguous districts, people spent a lot of time travelling.

Geography does count. The original 32 district plan was fairly decent size, but redrawing them might be a good idea. Maybe to match the Community Board zones.

What about a district school board and superintendent? The Ed Notes governance plan (with lots of input from the ICOPE concept that has been floating around) still has to figure that one out.

Should there be a school constituted by a member from each constituent school? Maybe a mixed board. One thing we should not see is a small board subject to manipulation by political machines. By putting power at the school level, those machines would have a hard time getting traction. I could live with a superintendent who monitors the schools and provides district level services to the schools. If these services are not delivered effectively, the schools need a way to take action or seek alternative sources.

What about high schools?
Remember that even under community control, the high schools were still centralized. I envision a mixed model but would need more input from people on this issue. High schools have been so separated from neighborhoods under BloomKlein. Bring back the concept of a zoned neighborhood high school with options to opt out. But keep it under local control. If the school is not functioning figure out why and fix it, not close it. If they decide at that level to have 4 small schools, that's fine. But Bill Gates would have to go there to sell his wares, not to one dictator.

That's enough on governance for now. My hair is starting to hurt.


Anonymous said...

In many schools Klein empowered principals to hire and fire teachers as they whished. I've never seen so much NEPOTISM in the public schools.

Anonymous said...

Do you think that NO MAYORAL CONTRAL will effect UFT contract especially ATRs with bupping, and seniority rights restored. Can I fight city hall now? Can I win?

Anonymous said...

No it won't impact on the contract.

Anonymous said...

Notice how in this firestorm over mayoral control nobody even mentions the toothless UFT and its dishrag leadership. Punks! Impotent ass-kissers.