At the same time, Mayor de Blasio and the Chancellor continue to deliver scare stories and repeat like a mantra that we will return to the days of "chaos and corruption" of local school boards; and the media is repeating their stories as gospel apparently without apparently doing any fact-checking. As I mentioned briefly before in the blog, the local school boards lost all their power to hire, fire and let contracts in 1996, years before the adoption of Mayoral control, with nearly all power centralized in the Chancellor. Here is an excerpt from the brief history in Gotham Gazette:
Rodney Saunders, a strong proponent of the local boards, says he ran for school board, an unpaid position, in 1996 because, after his daughter started kindergarten, he felt he had a vested interest in working to improve the school system. He says some people run for school board after serving as a leader of a school parents' association, while others see it as a first step in entering the political arena. About 30 percent of school board members have children in the school system.
Saunders says, "School board members, as elected officials, can use the power of the parents and the press to call attention to conditions that exist within a specific school or the entire district, such as the need for additional seats or buildings because of severe overcrowding."
He believes that corruption among board members is rare, but that the community boards have been convenient scapegoats. "The press and Board of Education were always blaming school boards for failures," he complains. Now that the community boards have less power, and "we can't be blamed, it's 'the parents' fault' or the 'students' fault.'"