ICE has talked about school governance at several meetings. We listened to many ideas about how the school system should be governed since the law authorizing Mayoral control of the schools sunsets in June 2009. If the State Legislature and Governor do not renew the law, then the old Board of Education (7 members: 2 appointed by the Mayor and 1 appointed by each of the Borough Presidents) returns.
After seven years of Mayoral dictatorship, many educators would gladly go back to the old system but that does not appear to be likely as the Bloomberg dominated media seem to want the current top-down dictatorship at any cost.
Teachers I talk to can not stand another day under the current system. Betsy Gotbaum's commission seems to want Mayoral control with some checks on it. That is a small step forward. We will see what the UFT proposes.
In ICE discussions, we came up with an idea that none of the people studying school governance seems to be considering: Democracy.
What is wrong with the people electing the central school board and the Chancellor being accountable to these elected representatives? Local boards can be elected too. Why is democratic governance not even being discussed? In the suburban school districts throughout the State and in most of the country where very few people are complaining that public education is failing, school boards are usually elected by the voters. We understand that schools throughout the rest of the state, outside of the five big cities, are financed mostly through property taxes but we can talk about funding a little later.
What we cannot understand is why democracy is such a radical concept when it comes to New York City schools.
Let's put democracy on the table.