“They’re Like Petulant Children”: The NYS Legislature Begins to ReThink Mayoral Control

With substantial fanfare Mayor Bloomberg accepted the Eli Broad Prize in Washington, DC: a prestigious prize – a half million dollars in scholarships for high school seniors.

The 29 member NYC DOE Communication Department pumps out self laudatory press release after press release. The problem is the old “crying wolf” story … With an avalanche of back slapping it has become impossible to differentiate among the stories … self aggrandizement results in suspicion of each and every claim.

A more interesting story didn’t make the Department website.

The City and the State are still battling over $258 million, part of the CFE lawsuit settlement, called the “Contract for Excellence.” The NYC Department of Education established five vague goals and proffers to use the monies to achieve these goals. The Campaign for Fiscal Equity demands a “specific” outline for “how to create smaller classes.” In addition CFE points out that the City plan does not drive funding to the lowest performing schools.

A powerful legislator, Ivan Lafayette complains, “We’re offering all that extra money, but the city refuses to use it as they’re requested to do … they’re like petulant children.” Lafayette goes on to say that his support of mayoral control was a mistake.

The mayoral control law sunsets on June 30, 2009, however, it is becoming increasingly likely that the legislature will revisit the law during the Spring, 08 legislative session.

The teacher’s union has formed a Task Force to explore current school governance  and parents, advocacy organizations, City and State elected officials are all looking to reign in the unfettered power of the mayor and his appointees.

The core of the Klein plan is based on the views of Sir Michael Barber, currently a consultant and Klein’s intellectual guru. Barber points to his successes as Tony Blair’s schools leader. However, as Yanks begin looking at Barber’s claims it becomes increasing clear that his claims are illusory.

It’s beginning to look a little embarrassing – akin to the whispering going on around the guy who is terminally ill and doesn’t know it.

For five years Klein has treated parents, unions, advocacy organizations, and, most importantly electeds, as if they were his serfs … with total disdain. Joel, beginning to make nice to the folks you slapped around for years usually doesn’t work.

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