I just came from the NY Senate hearings on mayoral control, where Senator Shelley Mayer, chair of the Education Committee, Senator John Liu, chair of the NYC Education Committee, and Senators Robert Jackson, Velmanette Montgomery and others asked piercing questions of parents, advocates, community members, as well of Mayor de Blasio and Chancellor Carranza.
To cut to the chase: the Mayor said that he and the Chancellor are "working on being more responsive to parents" and plan to be more systematic about this in the "next couple of weeks." This is after he has been in office for five years.
Meanwhile he insisted on a three-year extension of mayoral control to the end of his term; no change in the composition of the Panel on Educational Policy, no change in his ability to fire PEP members at will, and no change in the selection process of the Chancellor to make it more transparent or provide more public input.
Several times the Mayor claimed he had never fired a PEP member for disagreeing with him, which is untrue. Elzora Cleveland was fired last year as reported here and in City Limits below, for voting against school closures.
Jumaane Williams, our new Public Advocate-elect, spoke concisely and well about the need for municipal control - meaning that the City Council should be empowered to provide checks and balances when it comes to our schools, as they do with all other city agencies but DOE.
Brooke Parker of NYC Kids PAC and I spoke after Jumaane; my testimony is below. We agreed that municipal control would be an improvement, as well as giving more authority to CECs to approve school closings and co-locations and changing the composition of the PEP.
After me, Community Education Council District 3 President Kim Watkins and Shino Tanikawa, the co-chair of the Education Council Consortium, the collective of all the CECs, explained how the current system is essentially undemocratic and that parents continue to be shut out of important decision-making when it comes to their children's schools.