MBA students at Stanford and Wharton and doctoral candidates at Columbia and Harvard will be speculating for years to come on the immense failure of the Bloomberg/Klein years?
Why was a mayor who is such a superb manager such a failure in managing the DOE?
How could a chancellor who was so dependent on consultants ignore the wealth of knowledge on effective schools?
Peter Senge, Dee Hock, Norm Fruchter, Larry Cuban, David Tyack have written extensively about complex organizations, schools and school reform: and Klein has ignored their wisdom.
The Tweedlings are parsecs away from the 3rd grade teacher in South Ozone Park or the middle school teacher in Bensonhurst.
The core of any school system, the tipping point, is the place where teachers encounter kids: the classroom. How can we empower and support schools, not from Tweed, but at the local level?
How can we re-create communities of schools, as Andy Wolf in the NY Sun reminds us, that were supported by their neighborhoods?
In 1970 New York State created Community School Boards with wide ranging powers: they hired and fired superintendents, principals and assistant principals, they drove budget decisions, and, a fatal flaw, they could ignore the chancellor.
In the mid nineties the teachers’ union and the Board of Education Inspector General Ed Stancik supported legislation that required that chancellors, after consultation with school boards, selected superintendents and all personnel decisions were to be made by the superintendents, and specifically excluded school boards from making any personnel decisions.
The system worked reasonably well in middle income areas, regardless of race: school boards were effective. In the poorest areas community/parent participation was meager and schools showed little progress.
The lowest achieving schools were under the direct supervision of the chancellor.
The current Community Engagement Councils, a creation of Bloomberg/Klein, are totally powerless. Councils are made up of parents selected by District Parent Association Presidents with two members appointed by the Borough Presidents. Many of Councils have vacancies as members leave. They are a total failure.
Should we recreate Community School Boards, and, if so, should we reserve seats for parents? Should other seats be elected? When should the elections be held?
Should training for school board members be required?
What should be the powers of School Boards? Should they be involved in the C-30 (Supervisory Selection Process)? recommend candidates to the superintendent? Should they be responsible for zoning, opening of new schools/programs? closing of schools/programs? criteria for gifted programs? should Schools Boards make policy decisions for their schools?
Should some of the responsibilities of the Integrated Service Centers (ISC) be derogated to School Boards?
Should School Boards serve as ombudsman?
Much of the discussion has center on mayoral control, rather than the impact of that control.
Changing governance at the top, without creating strong supports for schools at the local level will only be cosmetic. Schools, parents, city agencies, community organizations, not-for-profits, religious organizations must become a seamless support system for the children they serve.