Should Mayoral Control in New York City Be Extended, and, If So, Should the Law Be Amended?

The NYC Mayoral Control law sunsets on 6/30/19 and will revert to the previous governance structure unless the legislature and governor extend the law: under Republican control the state senate held the extension hostage to exchange for some other chip, i. e., increasing the charter school cap, etc. With Democrats in charge of state government mayoral control will be extended, probably for three years.

Senator John Liu chairs the NYC Education Committee (newly elected to the Senate he served for two terms as Comptroller of the City of New York); he is well-liked and highly regarded.



March 15, 2019

TO: State Senator John Liu and members of the committee

FROM: Peter Goodman, Ed in the Apple: Blogging on the Intersection of Education and Politics

RE: Mayoral Control Extension

Both Houses of the Legislature and the Governor have included a three-year extension of Mayoral Control in their proposed budgets; the question is should the law simply be extended or should the law be amended:

Should the Mayor continue to appoint a majority of the Panel for Education Priorities (PEP)?

 Mayoral control means the Mayor appoints a majority of the PEP; to reduce the Mayor’s appointees to less than a majority would be chaotic. The various factions would disempower the Mayor and result in the absence of leadership – a disastrous outcome.

I do recommend that the one member of the PEP be appointed by the City Council, the Mayor would continue to have a majority; the Council would have a voice at the policy table in addition to their charter oversight responsibility.

 Should PEP members serve at the discretion of the appointing authority or fixed terms?

 They should serve fixed terms, rather than act as a rubber stamp.

 Should the powers of the Community Education Councils (CEC) be expanded?

 A vigorous “yes,” the CEC’s are currently virtually powerless, at the CEC meetings the people on the stage commonly outnumber the people in the audience. The CEC should have roles in principal and superintendent selection, charter school approval and siting and curriculum. The folks closest to the classrooms have the greatest impact on student outcomes; under the current management system all decisions are made at Tweed, they rarely impact classrooms.

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As I emphasized in my presentation you need a decision-maker at the top who can be held responsible by public opinion and at the polls. A number of speakers called for a one-year extension and an annual public assessment of performance: the result would be no decisions. You cannot be halfway off the diving board, you must be all in!!  For example you can debate school integration, someone has to approve and implement a specific plan and be accountable.

Not to say. As I indicated above, the current law cannot be amended. For example, the local school board, in NYC called the Community Education Council (CEC), made up of elected parent leaders, should have the power to accept or reject charter schools in their community. The purpose of charter schools is to create choices within a community; if parent leaders are satisfied with schools they should be able to reject the approval of a charter school.

The legislature will be in session until mid June, I would expect passage of an extension much earlier; hopefully including my suggestions.

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