Monday, March 12, 2018

Is Mayor de Blasio turning into Michael Bloomberg? and will our legislators heed the need to reform mayoral control?

On Friday, we learned that Elzora Cleveland was pressured by the Mayor's office to resign from the Panel for Educational Policy because she voted against a number of school closures and co-locations at the last PEP meeting on February 28.  On Sunday,  more details were reported in a NY Post article, in which I am quoted:

“I find it deeply disappointing that the mayor would break his promise to parents in this way,” said Leonie Haimson, a member of the PAC board. “This ensures there will be no checks and balances on his autocratic decision-making that affects so many families.”

By firing Elzora Cleveland, de Blasio is also breaking a promise he made when he first ran for mayor.  In his 2013 response to our NYC Kids PAC candidate survey,  his campaign wrote: "PEP members will have two-year fixed terms, which will ensure that PEP members who might disagree with Bill will maintain their membership." 

He also responded yes to the question, "having Board of Education members with set terms, who cannot be fired at will by the Mayor."

Yet de Blasio has broken so many of his campaign promises, as reported in the 2016 NYC Kids PAC report card.  He selected not one but two Chancellors through a highly secretive process, without any public input or parent feedback, contrary to his campaign pledge that would hold a "serious, serious public screening" rather than select one the way Bloomberg did who is "pushed down our throat."  Last month, he refused to even talk to  parent leaders who asked to meet with him about how they participate in the process.

Yesterday, Diane Ravitch asked on her blog, "Is Mayor de Blasio turning into Michael Bloomberg?"

Bloomberg and his Chancellor Joel Klein were rightfully criticized for being dismissive of parents, arrogant in their slash-and-burn school policies, and ignoring what rigorous research shows works to improve learning. Now with de Blasio's record of closing schools, refusing to reduce class size, firing PEP members, ignoring parent input, co-locating charters and generally refusing to collaborate with stakeholder groups, his educational policies are increasingly resembling those of his predecessor.  To some extent, this behavior is the predictable result of mayoral control out of control. As Lord Acton famously wrote, power corrupts and absolute power corrupts absolutely.

Clearly mayoral control needs checks and balances, no matter who is sitting in that chair.  I hope our legislators will heed that reality.

1 comment:

Richard Barr said...

Mayor DeBlasio's resembling his predecessor, Mayor Bloomberg, in the way he is handling school closings, the P.E.P. and the Chancellor search and selection look less surprising when viewed in a larger context.
To take two examples, he also resembles Bloomberg in his up-zoning of neighborhoods to create a high-rise, high income presence in previously low-rise neighborhoods which were havens for people of modest income and the businesses which served them. Now the residents and businesses are being/will be driven out, with only a smattering of new affordable apartments being required of the developers in return.
He also resembles Mayor Bloomberg and his police department, as well as Bloomberg's predecessor, Mayor Giuliani and his police department, in pursuing "broken windows" policing, in which arrests are made for low level activities like marijuana possession or fare evasion, which overwhelmingly target young minority males.
In a number of ways, he is less of a departure, less of a consistent progressive alternative, than he represents himself to be.

Richard Barr