Sunday, April 5, 2009

What People Are Saying…..About Mayoral Control

What a week! The Education Equality Project convention did not feature an unblemished promotion of Mayoral control as some may have hoped. First came the report of the city's secretive ruling, allowing the Chancellor to raise money for the controversial organization on the taxpayer's dime...

....then came the explosive
revelations of massive contributions from lobbyists funnelled through a 501C3 to Sharpton's organization right before the Project was launched.

Then came the convention itself....

Schools Chancellor Joel I. Klein and the Rev. Al Sharpton, co-sponsored a conference of the Education Equality Project.... After Education Secretary Arne Duncan spoke enthusiastically about giving mayors of large cities control over their schools, saying that "we need the collective weight of the entire city behind us," many in the audience responded with skeptical boos...

Mr. Sharpton said in an interview on Thursday that he would not support the extension of mayoral control in its current form, suggesting that he agreed with criticism from some corners that the Bloomberg administration has marginalized parents in the last several years. "We feel there needs to be more of a role for parental involvement," Mr. Sharpton said. "We have to find a way to address that. We would not support the legislation as it is now." -- NY Times, April 2, 2009

Members of the Campaign for Better Schools, which is lobbying for significant changes to mayoral control,had deposited their organization's platform, printed on bright yellow paper, on each chair before the event began. Members of the Parent Commission on School Governance, also outspoken critics of Klein's, were also on hand to distribute fliers with their recommendations.-- Gotham Schools, April 2, 2009

As he's done in recent days,Duncan continued touting the benefits of mayoral control of urban school districts ... When he made the same pitch earlier in the day at the National Action Network's meeting in Midtown, it was met with an audible chorus of boos ... --NY Post, April 2, 2009

..... at the [second day of the] Education Equality Project conference..... Mr. Sharpton turned the floor over to Councilman Charles Barron, a frequent critic of New York's education reform efforts. "The mayor is out of control," Mr. Barron bellowed to scattered cheers from the audience of about200. "No one should have that dictatorial, autocratic power." . .. . When the time came for questions, audience members directed their concerns at Mr. Klein and his leadership of the 1.1 million-student school system over the past seven years.They said he had eviscerated the power of local school boards and left parents without a voice in the decision-making process. Some booed the chancellor ... -- NY Times, April 3. 2009

Barron also criticized Klein ... saying that the chancellor lacks any pedagogical expertise. ...Members of a group that pushes for revising the mayoral control law when it comes up for renewal this summer wore pins supporting their position and passed out fliers advertising their views. Several critics also challenged Klein's characterization of improvements made under his watch, saying that students are graduating without being prepared for college and that schools lack black history teaching.

A Harlem father, Vernon Ballard, said he lacks a voice in the school system — and leaders are not held accountable — when the mayor has total control. "There is accountability," Klein replied. "You have the chance to express your voice here." Many members of the audience broke into laughter. ---Gotham Schools, April 3, 2009

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