On Sunday night, June 14th, the long awaited mayoral control bill popped up on the Assembly website. The 38-page bill contained no surprises.
* Mayor continues to appointed a majority of the Panel for Education Policy, fma, Central Board, without fixed terms. The Chancellor is not the chair, he serves as an ex-officio member. The proceedings of the PEP will be transparent.
* The Comptroller and the Independent Budget Office (IBO) will have the responsibility to audit both dollars and academic achievement.The IBO testified before the Ciy Council on June 4th and raised a number of significant questions in regard to their own budget, accessibility of DOE financial and achievement data. Whether the IBO is the appropriate monitoring organization and whether it has the budget and expertise are complex and controversial issues.
* Re-establishes the primacy of the role and function of superintendents. Currently School Support Organizations (SSO), that are not mentioned in the 2002 law, function as de facto superintendencies. How will the Department meld these two organizational structures?
* Six months notice before school restructuring and a detailed “educational impact report.”
* A section that encourages a policy to “enhance diversity and equity in recruitment and retention” of the workforce.
* Aligns the roles of School Leadership Teams, superintendents and District Education Councils (fka CEC) in regard to school budgets and state mandated Comprehensive Education Plans (CEP).
On Monday, June 15, an Albany press conference hosted by the United Federation of Teachers, the Campaign for Better Schools and the Parent Commission on School Governance called for additions to the Silver/Nolan proposal,
The focus of today’s press conference was on specific improvements that could be added to the Assembly proposal before it comes to a vote this week. Participants in the press conference called for:
- · fixed terms for members of the PEP in order to ensure independence;
- · strengthening parent and community engagement through an independent and publicly funded parent and student outreach and training initiative;
- · guarantees that district superintendents will have the authority to do their jobs in their assigned districts;
- · further protections for parents and community to have a role in decision making around school sitings, closings and insertions, and that these decisions are based upon an impact study that includes impact on English language learners, special education students, and the closing of the achievement gap; and
- · the Department of Education to be required to comply with all relevant State and City laws.
- · A two-year sunset to see if the governance changes have worked to increase and improve parent input into decision-making.
Some of the organizations opposing mayoral control have been critical of the UFT for reversing their position and endorsing a mayoral majority on the PEP, however they stood side by side asking for additions to the proposed law.
Is it a “done deal,” or will there be an opportunity for last minute “tweaks?”
In the real world of Albany politics after a bill has been discussed in the conference (caucus) and introduced by the Speaker it would be rare indeed for any last minute changes. None of the power brokers are calling for thousands of faxes opposing the Silver bill and hundreds of buses are not on the way to Albany.
The gridlock on the Senate side is unresolved, although it is possible that they will call a temporary truce of god to pass crucial legislation that both sides of the aisle support.
Winners and Losers:
* Mayor Bloomberg: Retains his majority on the PEP without fixed terms, he will claim victory, however, the other changes substantially change the law, unless Klein figures out ways to avoid implementing. The voters will have an opportunity in November to comment at the polls.
* Joel Klein: The loss of total control of the PEP and the new, enhanced role of the superintendents are real changes … the School Support Organization/Integrated Service Center/Children First Network model is not mentioned in the law, superintendents, currently meaningless appendages, apparently have their prior role restored. Will Klein reorganize to recognize the requirements of the law or try and finesse? If he tries to finesse will this impact the November election?
* Randi Weingarten: By the next union election, spring of 2010 she will probably have moved on and the heir apparent, Michael Mulgrew will be leading the UFT, union members will have their chance to express their support/opposition to the new law, and whatever behind the scene deals were made, if any, at the union polls.
* Cathy Nolan: As Chair of the Assembly Ed Committee she sponsored Committee meetings in all five boroughs. Nolan, the Committee members and the vast majority of speakers opposed the law, especially the Bloomberg majority on the PEP. The Silver/Nolan bill ignores the voices of the communities, will parents in Nolan’s district make her pay a price? We’ll find out in the September, 2010 primary …
* the bill Co-Sponsors: Will hopping on the band wagon as co-sponsors gain the support of Silver and Bloomberg or alienate grassroots voters? If the bill is a disaster the co-sponsors may face the wraith of parent and teacher voters in their districts? Micah Kellner and Jonathan Bing are co-sponsors in districts that have been sharply critical of Bloomberg/Klein policies re: lack of seats, gifted programs and zoning.
* Alan Maisel: An Assembly member, a retired teacher/supervisor and former School Board and CEC member has been supporting legislation for a year calling for six months notice before school restructuring … it ended up in the law. Persistence counts.
The 2009-10 school year will be the most difficult in many years, drastic cuts in personnel and services and substantial changes in the law. Will the Department will able to begin to implement these changes or seek ways to continue “business as usual.”
An interesting summer at Tweed.