Tuesday, May 26, 2015

Letitia James Calls for Reforms of Mayoral Control

In essence this would end many aspects of mayoral control -- protect the public school system from any mayor. My last post this morning explained where my thinking is at --  (I Agree With Eva Moskowitz (for a change) - de Blasio shouldn't run the schools - and neither should she) -- even James' reforms do not go far enough but at least open the door to local control over some aspects.

PA James Calls for Reforms to Mayoral Control
(New York, NY) — Public Advocate Letitia James today released sweeping recommendations on reforming mayoral control of New York City public schools. The reforms call for enhancing parental and community engagement, strengthening accountability, and improving the Department of Education’s (DOE) finances. The report, titled “Our Schools, Our Voices: The Future of Mayoral Control in New York City,” was created with input from over 300 parents, community members, educators, and other stakeholders who attended a series of public forums in all five boroughs over the last year.
“In every corner of our City, public school parents want a greater role in the decisions being made about their children’s education,” said Public Advocate Letitia James. “Mayoral control ensures there is accountability at the very top, but we must make changes that increase transparency and empower parents in public schools. I urge our state lawmakers to consider these common sense reforms before any renewal of mayoral control.”
In 2002, New York State law significantly altered the structure of New York City’s public school governance from a decentralized system of elected community school boards and an appointed central Board of Education, to a system of “mayoral control” in which the mayor holds vested authority over the City’s school system. Under mayoral control, the mayor has the power to appoint the chancellor, structure finances, appoint and remove members of the Panel for Education Policy (PEP) at-will, and set citywide education policies. The State legislature must authorize a renewal of mayoral control, and any proposed changes, before the current law sunsets on June 30, 2015.

To balance the unilateral nature of mayoral control, Public Advocate James recommends:
·         Restructuring the PEP to eliminate the mayor’s deciding majority and increase parent and community engagement ;
·         Requiring all chancellors to have education backgrounds by eliminating the educational waiver;
·         Expanding the Division of Family and Community Engagement to address busing, Individual Education Plans, and safety issues;
·         Improving the contracting  process by requiring DOE procurement contracts to be approved by the City Comptroller;
·         Requiring the DOE to be subject to Procurement Policy Board rules, allowing for greater transparency and accountability, and ultimately contributing to a more long-term cost savings’ strategy;
·         Giving Community Education Councils (CEC) the approval power over co-locations, school closings, and siting of schools within their district;
·         Establishing one additional school district in Staten Island to promote parent representation in the borough;
·         Ensuring School Leadership Teams are able to address school-based budgets and ensure those budgets are aligned with a school’s comprehensive educational plan, in accordance with state law;
·         Enacting DOE policy change to address the gap in existing capacity to support and oversee schools on language access, including providing superintendents and schools with necessary resources and funding for translation and interpretation services;
·         Instructing the city to perform an audit to determine the rate of related service delivery for students with disabilities, segmented by district, disability and Title I status.
Read the full report here: http://on.nyc.gov/1BnhXJf


  1. Great news as the race for mayor has officially begun. I must conclude that this is the opening salvo against DeBlasio/Farina and surely invokes the failure of DeBlasio to keep his election promises regarding education.

  2. This really is "let's destroy mayoral control in order to save it"--where's that colonel from Vietnam when we really need him.

    I can see why Trish wants all this, as do most of us, but it's a bit late in the game to throw this onto the fires already burning in Albany--and the Senate Republicans will use it to wrap fish with.

    Excellent points but I really wish the politicians who support OUR side of protecting public education would be smarter about how they try to effect real change than to dump a fine report like this into the process when the Legislature adjourns in less than three weeks and will be "dead on arrival."

    Great press for Trish, though, I hope.

    Norm, as to your call for a return to local control, even local micro-control, I do worry about the turnouts in those elections which rarely were above 5% and where, even when there was no overt corruption, the districts were subject to very serious and deadly manipulation by local elected officials and the UFT-UNITY. James Eterno says it's "all about the turnout" but it's hard enough to get voters ID'd and turned-out for a presidential election much less for a school board election and who will be doing the "turning out?" The elected officials and the UFT-UNITY.

    I love my teacher friends but not many really understand the process behind "political" change and community organizing. Certainly, they don't really understand what is involved in elections and getting "our candidates" through the petitioning process, onto the ballot and elected. Just something to think about.

    1. Harry,
      There were lots of reasons for poor turnouts - the election was in May. And the election was very complicated -- not a straight ballot - and of course the machines were involved - UFT and local -- my call for micro-control is designed to make those machines ineffective - chop the territory down so it isn't worth it. There will be corruption, etc -- but the DOE should just do oversight - even if we hired a regulator/watch dog for every school that would be cheap.


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