Sunday, May 12, 2013

Video and highlights from yesterday's UFT mayoral forum

Below is a video of the mayoral forum at the UFT spring conference yesterday.

Some highlights: In response to pointed questions from President Michael Mulgrew and Karen Alford, VP of elementary schools, all the candidates said they would get rid of the school progress reports along with the school grades. They also said they would minimize the influence of high stakes testing, including as a factor in teacher evaluations.

On school governance, Bill Thompson said he could live with less than a majority on the Panel for Educational Policy.  He said he would take six appointments out of 13, and that if he couldn't convince one non-mayoral appointee to vote with him, his position was probably wrong. John Liu said the members of the PEP should have fixed terms and the mayor should not be able to fire them at will, as currently occurs.  All but Christine Quinn said that there should be local approval (presumably of the Community Education Councils) before any more school co-locations could take place.

They all wanted to restore the district structure, get rid of networks, and strengthen neighborhood public schools.  They were opposed to raising the charter cap, were supportive of the community school idea with wrap-around services, and pledged to try to get more CFE funding from the state and use it to reduce class size.

In response to a question from the floor about charter school operator Eva Moskowitz, Bill de Blasio blasted her as he has done many times before; and Quinn said that when Eva was  chair of the City Council Education committee, she had unfairly targeted the union and "ripped us apart on the council."

The biggest gaffe?  Quinn was the only one who said that her choice as chancellor wouldn't necessarily be an educator, and cited Arne Duncan as an example of someone who was an "advocate" who had also been a good leader, prompting huge boos from the crowd.

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