Thursday, May 19, 2016

Mayoral control hearings and my testimony about why it's an undemocratic and frankly racist governance system

See this Gotham Gazette piece with quotes from Shino Tanikawa and me about the lack of parent voice at the hearings.

At today's Senate hearings on Mayoral control, most of those who invited to speak said they supported Mayoral control without  reservations or much analysis, only that things are less chaotic now.  Here were the witnesses:

Chancellor Carmen Farina
Chancellor Farina and Ursalina Ramirez
Mark Cannizzaro, VP of CSA
Tenicka Boyd, StudentsFirstNY
Teresa Arboleda, ECC
Ellen McHugh, CCSE
Mona Davids, NYC Parents Union
3 Charter school principals
Kathy Wylde, NYC Partnership
Marcus Winters, Manhattan Institute
Leonie Haimson, CSM
Laura Altschuler, League of Woman Voters
Richard Kahan, Urban Assembly
Dennis Walcott (he was originally scheduled 2nd, but had to leave and then returned)

The fact that the Mayor did not show up seemed to have pissed off both the Republican and Democratic senators,  who grilled Farina about this repeatedly and asked her if Bill de Blasio planned to go to Albany to negotiate the issue in the next 12 days before the Legislative session has ended.

Senator Felder asked if the Mayor had met with Flanagan.  Chancellor Farina said she didn't know. Senator Peralta asked if it was true that the Panel on Educational Policy was a rubber stamp and had never turned down a contract. Ursalina Ramirez, the DOE COO, said five times - four revisions and once rejected, but I think she was referring to co-locations, not contracts.  I've asked past and current PEP members and they've said they know of no contract that the Panel has ever turned down.

Standing room only at the hearings today (see Walcott standing?)
The Chancellor said that she spends lots of time listening to parents, though she doesn't always agree with them.  She said that Mayoral control works as shown by the fact that de Blasio appointed her.

She said she told CECs to deal with diversity (!!) and David Goldsmith of CEC 13 has done a great job.   Senator Golden asked about school overcrowding, and the Chancellor said that there are siting problems and that there should be some sort of committee formed.

Senators asked the Chancellor if she had any proposals for improvements to the governance system, which she didn't.  Instead she spoke about changes to teacher certification. A few witnesses suggested tweaks to the PEP and the authority of the CECs,  including the CSA (Principals Union) and the ECC (Consortium of CECs).

In response to Senator Perkins' insistent questions about charters, Farina said they are working with charters to spread their best practices to public schools, including Uncommon Charters which uses Relay to train their principals and teachers with good results (like the highest suspension rates in the city?)

The charter school principals then complained bitterly about how they had been unfairly denied space and resources, including the principal of Girls Prep who bewailed the fact that she had not been provided space for a band (!!).  Another charter principal, either from Success or Coney Island Prep, said though he believes in Mayoral control, de Blasio doesn't deserve it.

Me giving my spellbinding testimony
The fact that the UFT was invited and didn't show up was mentioned twice by Senator Marcellino, who seemed very disappointed and added that he was a former NYC high school teacher and UFT delegate. Marcellino also seemed concerned when Mona David testified that the DOE has closed SLT and PTA meetings to the public.  Hopefully soon the video will be posted online and then I will share.

My testimony is below. I added a comment about how more parents should have been allowed to testify. The high point of the hearings for me was when Sen. Felder said the KidsPAC report card we released yesterday looked good.  Take a look!  - Leonie Haimson


Unknown said...

I believe the principal was Shabazz from SA in Harlem. He made the YouTube video about the naacp going against SA... It came out around the time of the got to go list.

kemala said...

your testimony is brilliant--as usual. Thanks so much for your persistence despite the continued obtuseness of your listeners...