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July 24, 2009
A mayoral control deal; next step, get senators on board
The Bloomberg administration and Senate Democrats reached a tentative deal on school governance last night, with the mayor agreeing to some extra oversight of police in schools, a $1.6 million parent training center, and a new citywide panel on arts education, sources familiar with the deal confirmed this morning. The deal would also require the city to add a new factor in superintendents' reviews of principals: the quality of instruction and curriculum. Hashed out by Deputy Mayor Dennis Walcott and the two top Senate Democrats, Malcolm Smith and John Sampson, the agreement is several steps away from being finalized. The rest of the Senate's Democratic conference will have to sign onto the agreement — and so will the state Assembly. Even more difficult, for the deal to become law before the next school year, both houses of the legislature will have to return to Albany this summer to pass legislation. The Assembly already passed a bill renewing mayoral control of the public schools, with some tweaks, before the end of its regular session. The bill enjoyed the support of the Bloomberg administration, but senate Democrats, once they solidified their thin majority, pushed back against signing onto an identical copy. They pushed for extra tweaks including a way to guarantee parent involvement in the public schools.
July 23, 2009
Angry senators call for negotiations that are already happening
Sen. Ruben Diaz Sr. delivered a speech in Spanish against no-bid contracts. (<em>GothamSchools</em>) The circus around the State Senate intensified today as half a dozen senators gathered to complain that Mayor Bloomberg would not meet them at the bargaining table. Immediately afterward, senators confirmed that negotiations are, in fact, ongoing. "We will not be dictated to, we will be negotiated with," said Senator Bill Perkins, a persistent critic of mayoral control. Joining Perkins on the steps of City Hall were Sens. Shirley Huntley, Hiram Monserrate, Pedro Espada, Eric Adams, Ruben Diaz Sr., and City Councilman Robert Jackson. All of the senators were among those who supported a failed bill that would have curtailed mayoral control. After the press conference, Monserrate acknowledged to reporters that negotiations were already in progress. "We're at the table," he said. "There are some meetings occurring." Those meetings, which began on Monday after mayoral control talks fell apart last week, are being held by Democratic conference leader John Sampson's staff and deputy schools chancellor Christopher Cerf. Senators would not discuss the details of the negotiations today, but they reiterated their support for increased parent involvement, funding for art programs, and fixed terms for citywide school board members. A source close to the discussions described the talks as "fragile."
July 23, 2009
Boro presidents demand stronger Board of Ed and a meeting
The Manhattan and Brooklyn borough presidents are turning back on a tacit alliance with Mayor Bloomberg on school governance, demanding that the newly reconstituted Board of Education become emboldened and that the city reconstitute community school boards. The presidents made the request in a letter to Deputy Mayor and Board of Education President Dennis Walcott today, asking for a Board of Education meeting as early as this August. They wrote: The political situation in Albany remains unsettled, and while the Senate may return in the fall, experience has sadly shown us that even weeks of negotiation can prove fruitless. We must prepare for the possibility that the stalemate will continue and the Board as presently constituted will be the governing authority of the system and its more than one million children for some months. The acknowledgment comes 22 days after the Board of Education first met in a scripted eight-minute session during which a majority vote called for the board not to meet again until September. A third borough president, Ruben Diaz Jr. of the Bronx, endorsed the letter today in a statement, saying he wants to take the challenge a step further: I would be willing to take their recommendations a step further and demand that the Board of Education meet as soon as possible to vote on each of the issues they have raised. The three borough presidents alone cannot dictate what the Board of Education does, as they have only 3 of 7 votes. A meeting "as soon as possible" might also be hampered by the fact that Diaz's appointee, Dolores Fernandez, is on vacation through Aug. 9, according to an e-mail she wrote to GothamSchools. Two other board members were appointed by Mayor Bloomberg, and the other two, appointees of the Staten Island and Queens borough presidents, include Walcott, a deputy mayor, and an ally of the mayor's. The full letter from Markowitz and Stringer is here, including a seven-point plan for how to reconstitute the pre-2002 school governance law. UPDATE: I just spoke to Stringer, who disputed my characterization that he ever had an alliance with Bloomberg. "We never had an alliance," he said. "We agreed on an approach, and we may all agree with this approach in 24 hours." Stringer, a former Assembly member, also predicted that the pre-2002 governance structure could last for "at least a year." Lawmakers are not scheduled to return to session until January 1, 2010, but major bills like New York City school governance often take an entire session to negotiate.
July 20, 2009
Mayoral control talks going "extremely well" despite public jabs
Senators and Bloomberg administration officials met last night and this morning to resuscitate the mayoral control negotiations that collapsed last week. Democratic conference leader John Sampson and senators Shirley Huntley and Martin Dilan met with advocacy groups and City Hall officials last night to restart negotiations, according to Senator Eric Adams (D-Brooklyn). And early this morning, members of Sampson's staff met with deputy schools chancellor Christopher Cerf, according to a source close to the discussions. Cerf did not return requests for comment late this afternoon. "There was a meeting held today with the mayor's office that we believe went extremely well," the source said. "There was no agreement, but they're moving forward. We're hopeful that we'll have something in the upcoming days." Sources said that Bloomberg did not attend either of the meetings. A spokesperson for the mayor's office declined to comment on the negotiations. Adams said he had "no idea," whether the school governance fight would be resolved before the Fall. "We're not scheduled to go back up to Albany until it's time to deal with the deficit," he said. "So I don't know if we're going to make a special trip."
July 17, 2009
Bloomberg fumes as mayoral control looks dead for summer
Listen to the segment in its entirety right here: 07-17-09-worrs Michael Barbaro reports on the choice words Mayor Bloomberg had for the state…
July 15, 2009
Senate session held up by last minute mayoral control talks
The Senate session scheduled for, well, right now, has been stalled by both parties, which have retreated to discuss what to do about mayoral control, according to Politicker. Throughout the week, Democratic lawmakers have offered conflicting clues to the bill's fate, and their forecasts soured after meeting with two of Mayor Bloomberg's deputy mayors last night. Senator John Sampson, the Democratic conference leader, told a Daily News reporter that he has "no idea" what will happen with mayoral control today. Senator Carl Kruger, never one for subtlety, told Politicker that the Assembly's school governance bill, which preserves the bulk of the 2002 law, is "DOA." Senate Democrats have said they would vote for the Assembly's bill, provided that Bloomberg and Senate Republicans agree to pass one of the chapter amendments proposed by Sens. Shirley Huntley, Bill Perkins, Martin Dilan, and Malcolm Smith. And there's the rub: the mayor and Republican senators oppose all of the bills.
July 13, 2009
Details emerge on how mayoral control might be modified
When senators return to work on Wednesday, they will likely vote to bring back mayoral control — but they may also pass checks that would further curb the mayor's power. Details about what those checks would look like began to surface last night, when four senators introduced three amendments with specific changes. Sens. Malcolm Smith, Martin Dilan, Bill Perkins, and Shirley Huntley have all proposed bills that would amend the bill passed by the Assembly, which Mayor Bloomberg supports. Two of the bills call for state funding for a parent training center and only one would prevent the mayor from firing his appointees to the citywide school board at will. Smith's amendment comes as a surprise. As Senate Majority Leader, a post he held a little over a month ago, he was a vocal supporter of Bloomberg's policies. Smith's bill and the Dilan/Perkins bill would give $1.6 million per year for two years to the New York University Center for Urban Education, which would run a parent training center. Another $600,000 would be divided among the city's student success centers, which work to increase the number of students in public high schools that go to college. Huntley's bill would leave parent training to the borough presidents, and sets aside no extra funding for the project.
July 9, 2009
As the Senate stalemate ends, a possible deal on school control
The stalemate in the State Senate appears to be ending in dramatic fashion today, with the distribution of power returning to how it was…
July 8, 2009
Klein proceeds cautiously in naming 3 new superintendents
Chancellor Joel Klein is making good on his word that, regardless of mayoral control's expiration, he would continue to appoint superintendents. The Department of Education has named three new interim acting superintendents to fill vacancies, according to the city's chief schools officer, Eric Nadelstern. Why "interim acting"? "Right now everything's up in the air," Nadelstern said. "Until the governance matters are resolved," he said, the DOE is erring on the side of caution. There are legal ambiguities surrounding the chancellor's ability to appoint superintendents. With the reversion to pre-2002 education law, the chancellor can select superintendents, but they can only make contracts with community school boards. Klein has not revived these boards, leading some to question whether existing and incoming superintendents have the legal authority do their jobs. The new hires will replace the outgoing superintendents in districts 8, 15, and 21.
July 7, 2009
Charles Barron: Chancellor Klein is illegally occupying Tweed
City Council member Charles Barron outside Tweed Courthouse yesterday. (GothamSchools Flickr) City Councilman Charles Barron tried to haul Schools Chancellor Joel Klein off to jail yesterday but left Tweed Courthouse empty-handed. His attempted citizen's arrest came during a rally yesterday to protest Mayor Bloomberg's continued school control even after mayoral control legally expired last week. Midway through event, Barron took the microphone and ascended Tweed's steps, some of the crowd following him. "They are in there illegally," he said when he got to the doors, which were closed. "They should have to leave. This is the people's building now." The doors had been open earlier during the event. "This is a citizen's arrest," he declared, ostensibly because Klein did not vacate his offices after mayoral control technically ended. (In fact, the newly convened Board of Education voted the next day to rehire Klein as chancellor and give him the same authority he had before the mayoral control law expired.) "Is the chancellor in there?" he asked the security guards on the other side of the glass doors. "No? Tell him I'm looking for him." Barron, who has called for Klein to be fired before, said a longtime community activist, Jitu Weusi, should be the chancellor. Weusi was a lead organizer of yesterday's event, which attracted about 100 people from across the city. (View more pictures from the rally.)
July 6, 2009
Mayoral control deal elusive for Senate Dems, contrary to report
Reports that a deal has been reached on mayoral control have been exaggerated, according to sources in Albany. The New York Post reported today that Senate Democrats had reached an agreement on mayoral control and would abandon their demands for fixed terms for members of the citywide school board. But sources in Albany said that no deal had been made and that senators were still haggling over the details. Though most sources said the deal outlined by the Post is likely to happen eventually, they said that until senators found a way to end the gridlock, no agreement could be considered final. According to the Post, the compromise amounts to the Senators agreeing to vote for the Assembly's bill, in exchange for an amendment that would be passed later and would provide for more parental involvement in the system. The article notes that Senator John Sampson, the Democratic conference leader who has led the opposition to reviving mayoral control without substantial changes, has "signed on to the deal." "There is no deal yet," said a source involved with the negotiations. "I think that this won't get settled until they have a path back into the chamber."
July 2, 2009
On hiring issues, DOE acts as if mayor's control never expired
It may be a new day and a new system, but at Tweed the plan for handling mayoral control's expiration is to act as though it never happened. When Department of Education officials began considering what the system would look like if mayoral control expired, they envisioned anarchy. (At least when talking to the press.) An internal memo released to reporters described a complete breakdown of the power structure, such that no one would have the legal authority to hire or fire teachers. That concern appears to have been cast aside. In the days following the law's expiration, the DOE has tried to make as few changes as possible to the school governance system. The issue at the heart of the confusion is the legal status of community superintendents.
everything old is new again
July 1, 2009
In 9-minute meeting, reborn Board of Ed endorses Klein and mayoral control, and is gone ’til September
This piece was reported by Philissa Cramer and Anna Phillips. The mayor’s top education aide is the new president of the Board of Education, Joel…
July 1, 2009
As Board of Education convenes, Dept of Ed's beat goes on
As borough presidents prepared to gather at Gracie Mansion to convene a new-old Board of Education last night, city principals received a newsletter in which the biggest news had to do with kindergarten waiting lists. No mention whatsoever of mayoral control's expiration. Here's the weekly newsletter:
June 30, 2009
Your guide to the uncharted post-mayoral control landscape
It looks like Governor Paterson's 7 p.m. extraordinary session failed to renew mayoral control. Mayor Bloomberg has already put out a statement (read it in full below) condemning lawmakers for "being held hostage to partisan politics." We've published a guide to the uncharted territory of a post-mayoral control world. Here's a summary: 1. The borough presidents and the mayor convene a new city Board of Education. 2. The Board of Education members elect a president among themselves and begin receiving salaries. 3. The Board of Education selects a chancellor. 4. The Board figures out how to make money flow. 5. Community school boards form. 6. District superintendents are appointed. Please note this all ideally occurs before the start of summer school tomorrow morning. The mayor's full statement:
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