Sunday, December 21, 2008

Mayoral control: the need for more accountability, transparency and checks and balances

Check out Part I of our terrific Dec. 19 public forum with Council Member John Liu, Robert Tobias, former head of testing for the NYC public schools and now director of the Center for Teaching and Learning at NYU, Udi Ofer, Director of Advocacy at the NYCLU and George Sweeting, Deputy Director of the Independent Budget Office.

The speakers were clear about how the administration is exploiting ambiguities and loopholes in the law to evade any actual oversight or checks and balances, either when it comes to the civil rights of NYC students or the accurate reporting of data such as test scores or spending policies, and how this has led to a "crisis of confidence" in our schools.

Part II is posted here, and Part III is here.


NYC Educator said...

I'm a big fan of John Liu. Do you think we could clone him?

Anonymous said...

Councilman Liu continues to justify mayoral control of the schools by citing the need for “accountability.” But accountability --- which boils down to the ability to affix blame --- is totally meaningless as long as a Mayor suffers no consequences when he makes mistakes.

True, the City Council holds public hearings when the DOE goofs, but ultimately the Council can disclaim responsibility and walk away. The Mayor simply can choose to ignore criticism, especially when he expects to be re-elected anyway.

The last time New York had true checks and balances --- and the only time others could get a mayor to change unpopular policy --- was when the Mayor had to share power with the borough presidents, the Comptroller, and the President of the City Council, who had Board of Estimate votes the Mayor often needed.

Until the State legislature --- not the Mayor or the Council --- convenes a charter revision commission, New Yorkers will be stuck with the meaningless concept of “accountability.”

The one chance we’ll have to change this is to convince our State officials to sunset mayoral control of the schools. The problem will be to find elected officials willing to take responsibility, and ensure that shared responsibility doesn’t doom the schools to underfinancing.