Who speaks for the children?
There is growing national debate over school governance. The historic model around the nation is elected school boards. The school boards represent the community, parents and taxpayers, hire a superintendent, and set policy for schools. This model is increasingly coming under attack . The eduwonks are rejecting the centuries old concept of elected school boards and proffer the education mayor.
Although the self-styled experts have hopped on the mayoral control bandwagon the recipients of school services and the funders of school services are not so enthusiastic.
Bills have already been introduced in the New York State Legislature that would restrain the powers of the education mayor .
Events of the last month have crystallized the debate. The economy is struggling and the City faces a budget gap. The Mayor announced cuts across the board, including an immediate 1.75% cut all schools and a five per cent cut for all schools next year. The Chancellor blithely snatched the money out of school budgets, with nary a word of criticism, or, any plan that would cut Department funds without impacting schools.
This Wednesday, March 19th, a range of organizations, the teachers union, parents, advocates and electeds will rally to oppose the cuts.
The Chancellor, in the thrall of the Mayor, has been silent.
The budget cuts are directly impacting services to children in each and every school. Other choices are ignored: cutting budgets of Support Organizations, cutting salaries of non-union Tweed staff, reducing Tweed staff: the cuts “take bread out of the mouths of babes,” and, apparently for Tweed, that is acceptable.
The Chancellor cannot both be the defender and the enemy of education. He cannot on one hand give his stock “Education is a Civil Right” speech and then ignore the civil rights of children by cutting school budgets.
As the education community engages in a debate over mayoral control an obvious flaw is the absence of representatives of parents and children, an absence of any checks and balances, an absence of any role for those who fund schools.
An educational mayor and Quisling chancellor harm us all.