The Pretenders: Possible Mayoral Candidates Debate the Future of NYC Schools with an Avatar Mayor Hovering

On Monday night five candidates for mayor discussed their views on education on a panel moderated by Lindsey Christ of NY1 and Philissa Cramer of Gotham Schools There should have been an empty chair. While Elijah won’t be showing up until the spring, the incumbent mayor still wants to pass along the scepter and orb in the usual fashion: apostolic succession.

Read Leonie Haimson’s script and comments, or, if you have an hour, watch.

The Epoch Times has a detailed description of the event with numerous direct quotes here.

Will any of the current candidates pass the “test”?

Mayor Bloomberg may be gone on January 1, 2014, he doesn’t want to be forgotten, and he doesn’t want the new mayor to reverse, curtail or fumble any of his programs. The Citizens United Supreme Court decision would allow the mayor to create a Super-PAC with the ability to make unlimited expenditures to support a candidate.

The avatar mayor will allow Mayor Mike to continue to govern from afar.

With the election a year off, and a Democratic primary to be held maybe in June, probably in September, the candidates have not yet resonated with voters.

Looking ahead to the 2013 Democratic primary for mayor, New York City Council Speaker Christine Quinn has the support of 23% of Democrats citywide. Former City Comptroller Bill Thompson follows with 15%. Nine percent of registered Democrats citywide are for current Comptroller John Liu while 8% support Public Advocate Bill de Blasio. Six percent back Manhattan Borough President Scott Stringer [just withdrew] while the publisher of Manhattan Media, Tom Allon, receives 2%. Nearly four in ten registered Democrats in New York City — 37% — are unsure

(Update: See just released polling data)

If none of the candidates for citywide office (mayor, comptroller and public advocate) achieve 40% of the vote in the primary a runoff between the top two vote getters would occur three weeks later.

The Republicans, who elected mayors in the last five elections are scrambling to find a candidate, they are betting on the Democrats self-destructing yet again.

Police Commission Ray Kelly, not interested, a couple of pretenders are sniffing: Malcolm Smith, Adolpho Carrion, according to the Wall Street Journal, Chancellor Merryl Tisch’s flirtation has ended.

The race could come down to Christine Quinn and Bill Thompson. Thompson, outspent perhaps 10-1 came within 5% of winning in 2009. Could he snatch Obama numbers in the Afro-American community and enough White, Hispanic and Asian voters to win? Could Quinn, the first openly gay, female candidate and the incumbent leader of the City Council cut across racial and gender and geographic boundaries? Could either one of them defeat a richly funded outsider running as a Republican?

An hour of the Democratic candidates musing on education policy: a rather lackluster discussion told us very little.

Increase the role of parents, heal rifts with the union, give the PEP greater authority, co-locate/don’t co-locate charter schools, an “experienced” new chancellor; a list of empty platitudes to attract and not anger potential voters.

The key decision will be the selection of the next chancellor, formally done by the Panel for Educational Priorities (PEP), under the current law a majority appointed by the chancellor.

Do you select from current Department leadership staff? From among former leadership within the Department? A current or former Superintendent from a large urban center? An academic with expertise in urban issues?

Chicago selected the former superintendent of Cleveland who had just played the major role in ending the Chicago teacher strike; in NYC the teachers have been without a contract for three years.

Do you craft changes in the current mayoral control law?

While voters give Mayor Bloomberg low marks on his handling of the schools there is no consensus on a path to improving schools. Yes, everyone wants good schools with low class size and an ample opportunity for parent involvement and by “good schools” we mean schools that score well on required measurements without an over emphasis on tests. School that include music and the arts, with healthy lunches, with a recognition bullying must be addressed, and that too many kids get suspended, we must do much better preparing English Language Learners and develop a plan to assist and support children with disabilities. Should the new mayor take on the charter school fight? Do we continue to co-locate charter schools in public schools? Do we charge charter schools rent? Do we begin to force charter schools to find outside space? How do we deal with schools that are failing? Do we create a new Chancellor’s District for low performing schools? How do we locate and train the best possible school leaders?

Did I leave anything out?

The new mayor will have to find this Jesus-Moses-Mohammad like individual to lead a fractious school system in an unforgiving environment of public and media scrutiny.

And, if they’re successful, there’s a job in the Middle East I have in mind…


2 responses to “The Pretenders: Possible Mayoral Candidates Debate the Future of NYC Schools with an Avatar Mayor Hovering

  1. We should Never forget or forgive Christine Quinn for giving Boom-berg(iceberg)!


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