Last night, hearings were held in Brooklyn on Mayoral control. About 70 people spoke, most of them extremely eloquently, passionately, and on point about how this essentially autocratic system of governance has seriously damaged our schools and NYC children. More than 90% said they opposed the current system, and the few that said they supported it mostly worked for DOE, including three Superintendents whose main argument seemed to be that this was a good system because they might not have been appointed otherwise. One member of the Citywide Council for High Schools said Mayoral control had allowed for more "parent choice", while failing to mention that she works for the largest charter school chain in the city.
Most surprising were the number of parents, teachers, and literacy experts who blasted the new mandated Literacy curriculum, especially HMH Into Reading, which they described as composed of scripted lessons, excerpts from texts, and repeated tests with multiple choice questions, with no time for students to read entire books or engage in any sort of independent reading. They said this had led to many students becoming bored and disengaged. And yet this Mayor has gotten credit in the media for imposing this curriculum, because it is ostensibly focused on phonics.
Many other speakers decried the rising class sizes, the wasteful contracts, the expansion of charter schools which has taken billions from the DOE budget and a increasing precious space from public schools, and of course, the repeated budget cuts imposed on schools. But so many important points were made over the four hours by so many speakers that they are hard to summarize. A video is posted here, and I encourage everyone to watch it. Meanwhile, I have collected a few of the most eloquent statements, from four parents and a teacher and have posted them below, with the permission of the speakers.
Two more hearings remain. First in Manhattan on Jan.18 at the High School of Fashion Industries, and though the sign up list is full, the hearing is still is worth attending, as last night in Brooklyn they extended the speaking time to anyone who showed up, whether they had were on the sign up list or not.
The final public hearing is in Staten Island on January 29. You can also submit written comments by January 31, and I urge everyone -- even those who have already spoken at these meetings -- to do so. The consensus is now overwhelming that, as one person said, Mayoral control is a failed experiment. Time to put the public back into public education.