Seven of the Mayor's eight appointees to the 13 member PEP voted to close five schools. The PEP completely ignored the public's loud cry to save JHS 145 in the Bronx. Parents are still pretty much ignored by Farina and her PEP as this video taken by Ed Notes of a parent from CPE1 ceding his time to Farina who refuses to answer him to defend the principal of the school.
In addition, the sixteen year ongoing war on teachers continues with the Bloomberg holdovers at the Office of Labor Relations. Farina empowering superintendents has done nothing to halt the war as far as I can tell.
The problem in large part is mayoral control. There is no accountability for the schools except for a mayoral election every four years where most voters I do not believe vote on the schools as their priority issue.
Schools are mostly a neighborhood concern but under mayoral control the neighborhoods have no say in how schools function. Farina went to great lengths to fight against a lawsuit that said School Leadership Teams should be open to the public in public schools! She lost but everyone knows where she stands.
The main de Blasio accomplishment on schools is increased high school graduation rates. This can easily be accounted for by credit recovery scams, known by kids as "easy pass" and tremendous pressure put on teachers in way too many high schools to pass virtually every student with a pulse.
Those of us who tried to save Jamaica High School knew full well in 2014, when the local politicians and the community rallied behind us, that Farina was as tone deaf to the public as her predecessors. Here is an excerpt from an ICEUFT blog piece from back in May of 2014 when we found out the Chancellor upheld the decision to close Jamaica.
In January of 2014 (Jamaica's last year), our fully functioning School Leadership Team wrote a highly detailed proposal on how Jamaica could still exist in September. Council-member Karen Koslowitz,
new Borough President Melinda Katz, Assembly-member David Weprin and others lobbied Chancellor Carmen Farina strongly on behalf of Jamaica being saved. The local Community Board unanimously passed a resolution in support. We had major momentum behind us.
It wasn't enough. The Chancellor closed the school and didn't even have the decency to inform us but let Melinda Katz tell one of our community supporters who told us.
What happened three years later on March 22, 2017 was no surprise to me. Only the names on the rubber stamps have changed on the PEP. We do not need the "right" mayor. We need to rid the system of mayoral control.
It is up for renewal in a few short months. Let's completely mobilize to put the public back in public education. We need elected school boards. If the State Legislature does absolutely nothing, then mayoral control sunsets at the end of June and the system reverts to the 1996 reform law with elected Community School Boards but the Chancellor having power to hire Superintendents. Let's not let them say we are returning to a corrupt system as there is plenty of corruption now.
Under the 1996 law, The Board of Education would consist of representatives of the five Borough Presidents and two representatives from the Mayor. The Chancellor would be accountable to the Board and not the Mayor. This retro-arrangement would be a major improvement in trying to get some accountability back at the Board of Ed while removing much of the mayoral politics from the system.
Public education advocates could create a better system, if given an opportunity, I'm sure. We need to have a public discussion on the school governance issue now.
Albany has given de Blasio one year extensions of mayoral control since 2015. No more extensions.
Let's put the pressure on to the Legislature to kill de Blasio control for good.
Below in full is a piece written here last June on this issue. It is as relevant today as it was back then.
IS THERE ANYTHING GOOD ABOUT MAYORAL CONTROL?
June 21, 2016
Since the Democrats in the state Assembly once again gave in on the issue of mayoral control of New York City schools by agreeing to a one year extension that also appears to leave charter schools free from many state rules, one has to ask why are Assembly Democrats so enamored with mayoral control? What has it done for this city?
If the Democrats would have shown some spine and called the Republican bluff on school governance, the system would have reverted to the 1996 law which took hiring out of the hands of local school boards to ease the corruption associated with the old system. That governance system gave the borough presidents a check on the mayor's power with a representative from each on the Board of Education while the mayor only had two BOE members. Mayors had to work with people. It was far from ideal but better than what we have now.
Mayoral control started in 2002. The mayor has a majority of the votes on the Board of Education now called Panel for Educational Policy which is a rubber stamp body. The major justification for what is essentially mayoral dictatorship is that high school graduation rates have gone up since the mayor took over. This cannot be disputed however the method for increasing graduation rates has been to basically scare teachers in many schools into passing kids who don't deserve to pass while also creating easy credit recovery programs for students who fail classes. There is no evidence that I have seen to show that pupils are getting to college more prepared than they were back in 2002.
Is a suspect graduation rate worth all of the negatives that have come with mayoral control? What I see is higher class sizes, depleted school budgets, overemphasis on testing, the destruction of so many neighborhood schools, Absent Teacher Reserves shuffled throughout their boroughs, out of control patronage hiring, no bid contracts, a constantly reshuffled bureaucracy, lawyers, lawyers and more lawyers, scripted curriculum, one crazy teacher evaluation system after another and more.
Maybe I am just a jaded teacher.
Has anyone seen any improvement in the schools under mayoral control?