Saturday, March 25, 2017


Mayoral control of the New York City schools sunsets again at the end of June of 2017. As this past week's events at the Panel for Educational Policy that were documented by Ed Notes show again, the Department of Education, legally known as the Board of Education, is basically no different under Carmen Farina than it was under Joel Klein or Dennis Walcott.

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.

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?


Anonymous said...

All for it but HOW?

Anonymous said...

I completely agree that the graduation rate increases are a ruse. I am in my second DOE school now. The script from on high is the same: "If you have less than a 95% pass rate, you get the target on your back." The credit recovery (now called credit accumulation) scheme is breathtaking in its fakery.

I cannot believe how many kids we 'graduate' in my school who can barely speak English, write a sentence properly or even read a paragraph and understand what they read. We teachers don't want to pass them along, but that is what our bosses demand and we need our jobs.

In my experience, the principals coming out of the Leadership Academy are the most corrupt, bullying people the DOE can find. At the end of the day, under mayoral control the mission is to make the mayor look good at all costs - so pass everyone!

Anonymous said...

Number Zero, Mulgrew wouldn't like that, therefore the UFT will be against it, though they may make a statement to the contrary, to appear like a union.

Anonymous said...

The Union is corrupt, and Mulgrew needs to go.

Anonymous said...

The same way nobody cared what the public had to say about Jamaica HS, the public outcry over Jahoda at Townsend Harris is falling on deaf ears as well. End mayoral control, and find a real educator for Chancellor (if that person exists in the DOE anymore).

Anonymous said...

Mulgrew supports Mayoral Control!

ed notes online said...

We need to have an elected school board as a start to ending mayoral control. I believe that might gather enough support to get the ball rolling. Step 2 would be figuring out neighborhood controls, including the ability to reject charters. But we know state leg and Cuomo will never allow it. But with De B so unpopular things are possible.

Anonymous said...

Will that get the TDA back to 8.25%, because the state is no longer in financial peril? Will that make students respectful? Will that get th next contract at 6% per year to make up for 7 years at 1% each? Yeah, I didnt think so. The ship has sailed. Good luck getting these "students" to fund your social security the next 40 years. Its over, its collapsed, it will never be made well again. The country has changed, too many freeloaders, 50 percent dont pay taxes.

James Eterno said...

If Legislature does nothing, it reverts to 1996 law. All you have to do is convince one of the three men in a room to let it go and it is done.

Anonymous said...

For the TDA?

Anonymous said...

Ending mayoral control would put less money in the system. Raises would be tougher to get. If you were mayor and held accountable for snow removal and could blame poor schools on an independent school board, you would buy plenty of snow plows and put less money in schools.

James Eterno said...

There is a maintenance of effort law that forces a portion of the budget to be spent on the schools in NYC.

Black Educator said...

For many years, the Coalition for Public Education has been urging us to organize to end Mayoral Control:

I urge educators who want to end mayoral control and bring about Neighborhood Community Control to join the Coalition for Public Education!

Contact me- Sam Anderson-

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