Tag Archives: State legislature

Tick Tock: Mayoral Control Dangles by a Thread as the Legislature Enters Its Last Day: Can the Governor Be The Deal Maker?

Klein: ‘Hopeful’ For 2-Year Mayoral Control

By Nick Reisman

A two-year extension of mayoral control of New York City schools is under discussion, Independent Democratic Conference Leader Jeff Klein said at the end of a meeting with Gov. Andrew Cuomo and top legislative leaders.

“We’re hopeful we can do a two-year extender of mayoral,” he said after the meeting. “We’re hopeful. That’s not a deal.”


The state legislature will adjourn tomorrow, June 21st and the staffs of the governor, the speaker of the Assembly and the majority leader of the Senate will be up all night trying to cobble together the outstanding issues.

Why do issues wait until the last possible chance of agreement?

Politics is about gaining advantage, the Republicans “intimation” that Obama was not born in the nation, constant subtle racism, Bengazi, e-mails, etc.,  have nothing to do with policy, in fact, the only policy issue – “repeal and replace” of Obamacare, is turning out to be a major negative for Republicans.

The consistent attacks worked, a Republican president, although for the party insiders the wrong Republican and both houses of Congress.

In New York State linking mayoral control to charter schools has enabled the Senate Republicans to collect substantial campaign dollars from charter school supporters across the nation by forcing reluctant Democrats to support charter school issues in order to retain mayoral control.

This year the Democrats are taking a firm stance.

If mayoral control is not renewed New York City will revert to the prior management model – decentralization. A seven-member school board: one appointed by each of the five borough presidents and two by the mayor and 40 elected school boards, the elections would be held in May, 2018. (See decentralization law here). Virtually everyone, from the governor to both houses of the legislature to the editorial boards of the newspapers to the good government groups totally reject a return to the previous management model – decentralization.

The Democratic-controlled Assembly passed a two-year extension of mayoral control and in the same bill included tax extenders for a number of local communities, in Republican districts, that in prior years were routinely passed. and are non-controversial..

The Republican-controlled Senate introduced three bills all linking mayoral control to pro-charter school legislation.

The speaker of the Assembly, Carl Heastie, stated under no circumstances would mayoral control be linked to pro-charter school legislation: public posture – a stalemate.

On Tuesday, June 13th the Democrats in the Republican-controlled Senate introduced a  “Transparency and Accountability for Charter School Funding  Bill,”

This bill would provide enhanced transparency and accountability of charter schools in regards to enrollment targets, discipline policies,management and operation of the charter school, charter reserve funds,charter facilities rental aid payments, information disseminated to parents regarding probationary status, and residency dispute issues.

Read the entire bill here.

Governor Cuomo has made his position clear last week and was pessimistic in an interview 

ALBANY – Gov. Cuomo expressed pessimism that the expiring law giving Mayor de Blasio control over the city school system will be renewed before the state Legislature ends its annual session next week.

… he believes any solution should include a three-year extension of the law coupled with pro-charter school provisions …

The question is do they care enough to do it,” he said of the Assembly and Senate reaching a compromise agreement. “I would bet against it. They could have made this compromise a long time ago (during budget talks).”

Asked if he’s disturbed the governor seems to be siding with the Senate GOP rather than with his fellow Dems in the Assembly, Assembly Speaker Carl Heastie said: “same song, different day.”

If no law is passed the legislature goes home and the demise of mayoral control remains in the headlines. With minimal opposition Mayor de Blasio will be re-elected; the gubernatorial and legislative races aren’t until 2018.

A political aphorism: when you toss a rock into a pond of feces you never know who’ll get splashed.

The Republicans can simply walk away, allow mayor control to revert to decentralization, and absorb the criticism, and, if the New York City school system begins to disintegrate the Republicans can “get splashed.”

With all the state offices on the ballot in 2018 and Republicans holding a narrow one-seat majority is the risk too great?  The governor, as he has frequently done, can blame the catastrophe on the “dysfunctional legislature;” however, outside of New York City the Republicans had a majority, Cuomo needs a big majority in the city, and, the Democratic voters may look at the “splash stains” on his garments.

Or, a compromise, renew mayoral control, raise the New York City cap on charter schools and parts of the Charter School Transparency and Accountability in Funding bill (see above).

Or, a simple two year extension of mayoral control and come back to fight again in 2019.

The Assembly Dems, the Senate Repubs, the Senate Independent Democratic Conference (IDC) and the governor will each by vying to be the deal-maker

For my friends in Albany a late night and cold pizza

Albany Spin: The Legislature Finds a Sacrifical Lamb, Will the Gods Require More Sacrifices?

On Friday a “friend” called Josephine Finn, a judge in the village of Monticello and asked whether she’d like to join the Board of Regents, she explained to about 25 legislators who attended the interview on Monday that she studied up all weekend.

As the state legislators asked questions, some quite pointed, committee chair Cathy Nolan, frequently intervened, “You don’t have to answer that.”

Judge Finn was passionate, aggressive, explained she was a “fast learner,” didn’t seem to know anything about co-locations of charter schools, or, for that matter, wasn’t too sure what a charter school was. She favored the Common Core, sort of, agreed it was poorly implemented, and didn’t understand the moratorium proposal.

As reporters began to ask her questions “handlers” whisked her away.

Later in the day Regent Jackson withdrew his candidacy, and, on Tuesday the three incumbents and Judge Finn were elected to five year terms.

In a break from the past two candidates were nominated for each position – needing 107 votes (a majority of the 150 Assembly members and 63 Senate members) each of the candidates received 120 votes – all from Democrats.

Guess what, the selection process for members of the Board of Regents is political, as are selectees to the Supreme Court of the United States.

Sometimes the selectees are obviously highly qualified, sometimes the reason for the nomination is obtuse, part of local political wheelings and dealings.

The Brooklyn and Bronx delegations choose Kathleen Cashin and Betty Rosa – both had long highly successful careers as educators culminating as superintendents, both regularly visit schools, serve on education panels, deeply and critically question State Ed initiatives and occasionally oppose proposals of the Commissioner. Recently they vigorously opposed a task force report on amending the implementation of the Common Core and supported a two-year moratorium. They were outvoted.

The Board of Regents is a policy board, same as boards of CUNY and SUNY. The “policy” is actually set by the commissioner (called chancellors at CUNY and SUNY), and reviewed and approved/denied or amended by the boards.

A couple of days before the Regents monthly 2-day meetings the “Agenda and Materials” arrive See March materials here – usually about fifty or so pages of resolutions, back-up reports ranging from items impacting K-12, higher education, libraries/museums, budgets/audits, special education and the many professions supervised by the Board of Regents (dentistry, psychology, nursing, social workers and fifty or so more).

The Regents approve/amend/defer actions on the Common Core K-12 Social Studies Framework, or the Next Generation Science Standards, Transition Planning and Services for Students with Disabilities, Educator Diversity, Proposed Amendment to the Regulations of the Commissioner of Education Relating to the Duration of Limited Permits for Applicants Seeking Licensure as Mental Health Practitioners under Article 163 of the Education Law and about thirty other equally complex issues all on the agenda of the March, 2014 meeting.(Click on the link above for details of the proposals)

The commissioner drives the agenda, the few Regents with career long connections with education have questioned the avalanche of new programs, have suggested pilot programs, have urged outreach to “the field,” outreach to a wider community, all to no avail.

One program piled atop each other, until with the release of the Common Core State Grade 3-8 Exams were released – two/thirds of students failed the test – try as they could the commissioner and the State Ed staff could not assuage parent anger:

Humpty Dumpty sat on a wall,
Humpty Dumpty had a great fall,
All the king’s horses and all the king’s men
Couldn’t put Humpty together again

The parent anger not only did not abate, it increased, and who was at fault?

The governor blamed the Regents, appointed a task force, which issued a report, the legislators scrambled to avoid blame and found a “sacrificial lamb,” dumping Regent Jackson and allowing legislators most under fire to vote “no” on all the Regent candidates.

Will the charade convince parents that the legislators are guiltless…? Or, will the Governor require a “sacrificial lamb” higher up the food chain?