As I walked into Baruch College I was greeted by a host of placards, well dressed white people carry pre-printed signs supporting the Mayor and people of color carrying handmade signs challenging “one man rule.”
Draw your own conclusions.
Three security stations and long, long lines to get into the auditorium, a standing room only crowd.
Doug Muzzio, a Baruch Professor of Public Affairs chairs a rambling discussion more than a debate.
The procedure: the chair asked five questions and the panel answered, or wandered off in other directions … it was choppy and lacked focus.
Joel Klein expressed the position of the administration clearly: the Department of Education should be treated as any other Department of the City of New York, the “Commissioner,” that the law refers to as the Chancellor should be chosen by the Mayor, and, the Panel for Educational Policy should have a solely advisory role. Anything less would presage a return to the “bad old days.”
Joe Viteritti, a Professor at Hunter College, author of a recent book on mayoral control and Chair of the Gotbaum Commission on School Governance: Viteritti gave a quick summary of the eleven major cities with what is called mayoral control, in no other city does the mayor so totally control the schools. Joe differentiated between education and other city agencies, education impacts the lives of over a million children and parents must be engaged. Central Board: Policy or Advisory? Fixed terms or at the whim of the Mayor? He sees no problem with fixed terms with a majority appointed by Mayor … a Board that can engage in a public conversation. If the Board questions a policy perhaps the policy should be questioned. “The power of civic engagement.”
Reverend David K. Brawley, Co-Chair of East Brooklyn Congregations supports the current iteration with the addition of an independent Parent Resource Advisory Center.
Monica Major, Chair of CEC 11 supports a 15 member board with fixed terms, three appointed by the Mayor.
Ana Maria Archila, Co-Executive Director of Make the Road NY, and a ELL advocate sees a board on which the Chancellor is an ex-officio member … with checks and balances.
Mike Mulgrew, the UFT Chief Operating Officer explained the union plan, the Mayor appoints the Chancellor but only appoints five on a 13 member board.
While Joel spun out a litany of data and rest of the panel expressed their misgivings with the achievements of the current administration.
As Viteritti pointed out no one could show that their plan would be any more effective than the current plan. And, Joel kept warning that a weakened Mayor and a weakened Chancellor would have less focus and less accountability.
After countless debates no one seems to have moved any closer … innumerable plans with a legislative ticking clock. Joel did agree to “take look” at the Scott Stringer plan for CECs that mirrors the community planning board model.
Joel as he reached for the mike, “Trouble hearing me? May not be the microphone.”
Again Joel, quoting Yogi Berra, “Predictions can be perilous when they’re about the future.”
Viteritti: “To have positive outcomes parents and the public must feel that they are part of the debate, part of the process.”
And, of course the Yogi line that was omitted, “It’s not over till the fat lady sings.”
See Shelly Silver and Malcolm Smith comments here.