Friday, June 19, 2009

One Last Chance to Have a Voice on Mayoral Control

The Assembly has passed a less than adequate school governance bill that essentially keeps the Mayor in charge of the schools. Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver says he is open to negotiations on some aspects of mayoral control since his bill still has not cleared the deadlocked state Senate. This could be our opening to have one final opportunity to kill the six year abomination that is mayoral control. Below is a letter we could use to email to senators to demonstrate that teachers are not happy with the current system. Feel free to edit.

Here is a link to the state senators.

Say NO to Mayoral Dictatorship of the Schools

Mayoral control has been a disaster for working NYC teachers. Most of our schools are overcrowded beyond capacity; class sizes are rising and made their biggest leap in ten years, despite a state mandate to lower them. Scores of schools have been closed, renamed, walled up, and converted into academies or charter schools.

A 2008 UFT survey revealed that 85% of NYC public school teachers believe that Chancellor Klein and the DOE have failed to provide them with resources and support they needed to succeed. Similarly 85% said that the chancellor’s emphasis on testing had failed to improve education in their schools.

The overemphasis of test scores has led to our schools becoming test prep factories, instead of places where real teaching and learning predominates. The test scores themselves are increasingly meaningless – the result, in many cases, of excessive preparation, rote learning, and even cheating.

Mayor Bloomberg has reneged on his promise to rid the city of its ubiquitous trailers by 2012, depriving acceptable facilities to yet another generation of children. Instead of honestly admitting pervasive school overcrowding, the mayor pretends it does not exist – cutting the budget for new school construction by 60%.

Hundreds of teachers sit in the absent teacher reserve, hoping that this reorganization, unlike the last one or the one before that, might finally give them a chance to go back to work. Hundreds more teachers sit in the rubber room, accused of some unnamed crime but never brought to trial.

Perhaps none of this is surprising – given the fact that there are only two educators out of the top twenty executives at
Tweed. They simply do not understand what teachers – and their students – need to succeed.

We are convinced that the current system of dictatorial one-man control has deprived us of adequate teaching conditions, and NYC children of the equitable conditions they need to learn.

Our legislators should take note and replace this governance system with a better one, in which no one person, however rich and powerful, can decide on his own how more than one million children should be educated, especially one who has never sent his own children to a public school.


Anonymous said...

Patrick Sullivan to NYC Ed News

A few have asked about how PEP bylaws deal with scheduling of meetings. The bylaws are on the DOE web site on the PEP page.

Here is Article 2 which deals with meetings. I would understand Friday's emergency meeting to be a "Special Calendar Meeting" but without the required 24 hour notification.

None of the mayoral appointees spoke at the special session except for one who criticized me for not bringing my questions earlier (I posed them between two week and two months ago). One reason I was so mad was, like many of the readers of this listserv, I am all too familiar with the petty, patronizing tyranny of Chancellor' Reg A-660 governing PTA operations. The mayor's men follow no rules but promulgate endless rules for parents to follow under threat of sanctions.

I think Friday's event should help make it clear to everyone that the proposed Assembly bill will change nothing with regard to the city board. A large majority of mayoral appointees who can be fired at will are not going to stop the administration from ignoring either the board's bylaws or the state laws.


Section 2.1 Types of Panel for Educational Policy Meetings
Meetings shall be open to the public except to the extent permitted by law. The Panel for
Educational Policy may adjourn a meeting or recess a meeting by agreement of a majority of
those members attending a meeting. Upon announcing an adjournment or a recess, the
Chancellor shall also announce an estimated date and/or time for reconvening the Panel for
Educational Policy into public session.

2.1.1 Calendar Meetings
These meetings are held to take official action, in public, on matters for which the Panel
for Educational Policy is responsible. At calendar meetings, business shall be the
consideration of the resolutions, communications and other appropriate matters as
described in the calendar accompanying the meeting notice. No other matters shall be
considered except by consent of a majority of the members present.
At calendar meetings an opportunity may be provided for public comment regarding
action items prior to a vote on such action items.
Meetings will be held at a time to be established by the Chancellor.

2.1.2 Public Agenda Meetings and Public Hearings
These meetings are held to encourage maximum participation of the general public in
the work of the Panel for Educational Policy. At these meetings, the Panel listens to the
views of the public. These meetings may proceed without a quorum present. No votes
are taken at these meetings.
These meetings shall be called at the discretion of the Chancellor.

2.1.3 Special Calendar Meetings and Adjourned or Recessed Meetings
Special calendar meetings may be held on the call of the Chancellor, provided that
written notice of such meeting shall be given to each member, not less than twenty-four
(24) hours in advance and shall state the matters to be considered. No other matters
may be considered at said meetings, except with the consent of all members present.
Meetings may be reconvened to continue the work of an adjourned or recessed meeting.

2.1.4 Change in Date or Time and Cancellation of Meetings
Revised 2/10/04
A meeting of the Panel for Educational Policy may be changed to a stated date and time
at the direction of the Chancellor.

2.1.5 Place of Meetings
All calendar meetings of the Panel for Educational Policy and public agenda meetings
shall be held at a place to be determined by the Chancellor.

2.1.6 Notification
The Secretary shall notify all members of the postponement or cancellation of any
regular meeting or the calling of any special meeting or the holding of any adjourned or
recessed meeting.

7:23 AM, June 20, 2009

NYC Educator said...
What a great quote! It says it all.

Anonymous said...

Saturday, June 20, 2009
"The borough president didn’t send me here to be a potted plant" - Patrick Sullivan

Anonymous said...

No wonder the UFT likes Mayoral control. The Panel for Education Policy works just like the UFT Delegate Assembly. It's a rubber stamp body. Randi, Michael and Bloomberg have so much in common.

Anonymous said...

The article you are referring to so people know what you're talking about.

Education Panel’s Clout, or Lack of It, in Full View
By Javier C. Hernandez

If there was ever any question over the sway wielded by the Panel for Educational Policy — an enigmatic group of 13 charged with overseeing city education matters and often ridiculed as a rubber stamp — Friday morning appeared to clear things up.
The Department of Education, it seems, forgot to get the state-mandated blessing of the panel before it submitted its $22.3 billion budget to the City Council.
After Patrick J. Sullivan, a Manhattan parent on the panel, pointed out the relevant verse in state law, the city scrambled to call an emergency meeting of the panel for Friday, just hours before the expected Council vote. The public was given 54 minutes of notice.
The meeting came as the panel’s exact duties, and to what extent it should serve as a hedge against the mayor’s authority over city education policy, have become a focal point of the debate in Albany over mayoral control of city schools.
At 10:30 a.m., the full flock of panelists shuffled inside the majestic Tweed Courthouse — a rare feat for a board that boasts an average 75 percent attendance rate for its mayoral appointees.
The members emerged 40 minutes later, having given the budget an 11-1 voice of support. But that did not preclude the verbal fisticuffs.
“The folks and parents of Manhattan do not expect me to be a rubber stamp,” Mr. Sullivan, the lone dissenter, told the schools chancellor, Joel I. Klein, who serves as the panel’s chairman. “The borough president didn’t send me here to be a potted plant.”
Another parent member, Dmytro Fedkowskyj of Queens, called for the creation of a budget subcommittee, saying panel members had not mastered enough of the ins and outs to give an informed vote.
“In the ninth inning, it’s very difficult,” Mr. Fedkowskyj said to the nods of other members. “A lot could have been dealt with before, so we’re not all looking like deer in the headlights.”
Mr. Klein said he never intended to hand over the budget without the panel’s signature. He had anticipated the Council would vote on it next week — after the panel had time to review it at its scheduled meeting on Tuesday, he said.
When the Council scheduled a vote this week, and legal questions about the panel’s role started to arise, the department decided to call the emergency meeting, Mr. Klein said.
“We wanted to make sure they had any action the panel would take,” Mr. Klein said.
He noted that panel members had been given three opportunities to be briefed on the budget over the past month. “None of this is a surprise to anyone,” he said.