Benita chronicles a lot of the history, naturally from her perspective, of the work of the Parent Commission in its battle against mayoral control. If there are other points of view out there, share them in the comments section.
I have comments myself, especially on the role of the UFT, but don't want to clutter this post up too much. Just check the original organizing parent post for the section on how the UFT sold out the St. Vartas event. That event and its aftermath and the number of community groups that jumped in with the UFT instead of staying the course and following through with the May 1 rally set back the opportunity to build a mass movement that could have grown over the past two and a half years. I still believe that if that hadn't happened, the recent battles to kill mayoral control might not have ended the way they did. But the UFT and Tweed accomplished what they wanted: to split people apart and sow a level of mistrust. The Parent Commission to its credit was a regeneration of some of those activists but was not out to build a movement.
Benita leaves us with hope in her finale. It is worth sharing before you even read the entire essay:
...we really need to work differently from now on, better respecting varying approaches to skinning the fat cats, trusting enough to strategize TOGETHER from every angle-- in order to mobilize more people and make the kind of history that public education in this city, deserves. If we succeed in working differently-- but all together as public education activists and parents of all colors and incomes, I have faith that we can actually spark the fire of change in education policy our city needs. When that happens in the big Apple, I also believe all America will take a bite
That so many sharp, intuitive and active parents pushed back against the power of the massive BloomKlein machine, should be noted as a sign of the major failures of the education deform attempt to control the nations' schools. May they multiply exponentially. GEM and ICE are looking forward to working with them with open arms.
Dear Norm and Sean,
We researched other systems of education and heard from panels of education experts working in a variety of fields, both in and out of NYC. Through these learning forums and by parent committees doing vast amounts of research, we all came to understand that historically, NYC's mayors have always controlled education in some form, simply because they control the budget and allocate the dollars. We discussed and debated the novel concept of having a "partnership" with the mayor rather than giving in to any idea about continued control. We realized that the very word "control" was problematic, and all the more fueled by what Bloomberg/Klein had done with it.
The Parent Commission's Report, recommendations for a completely NEW system, and lobbying efforts spanned a little more than a year of some very hard work. The legislative bill that was drafted by the PC, and sponsored by Senator Shirley Huntley, was written from our recommendations. It very specifically called for an END to mayoral control. The passage of this original bill would have replaced the governance system of "control" with one that recognized and respected all parents as real partners (and that hateful buzz term "stakeholders") in the public educations of our own children.