Wednesday, July 15, 2009
Times Mayoral Control Editorial Reveals Deep Ignorance
Today's editorial in the New York Times, called So Much Unfinished Business, urges the State Senate to grant Mike Bloomberg a renewal of his complete authority over public schools. It urges passage of the Republican sponsored bill without amendment. But the editors simply don't have the right facts. They cite how the bill will "create 32 district superintendent jobs designed to focus on parents’ issues". District superintendents have always existed in the law and have significant responsibilities defined there including the supervision of principals. The Bloomberg administration eviscerated their authority by assigning them data coaching responsibilities that take them far from their home districts. For example, one Manhattan superintendent even told me she was expected to spend significant amounts of time at Coney Island school. Another told me he can't even go into schools without getting permission.
Superintendents should have an important role supervising, mentoring our many inexperienced principals, resolving issues unique to communities, planning and advocating for school construction and repair, working with schools on curriculum and teaching practices, etc. But the bill under consideration does little to restore the authority of superintendents. It simply says they should be "predominantly" in their districts and have "sufficient" staff. Nothing in the toothless language of the law will change the role of superintendents, especially with regard to resolving issues of concern to parents and students.
There are certainly insights to be gained from reading the Times editorial. It confirms that those arguing most forcefully for renewal of mayoral control, the wealthy publishers of the city's old media, have no idea what transpires in public schools because they don't send their own children there.