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who should rule the schools
January 28, 2009
NYers more positive about mayoral control than about mayor
A majority of New Yorkers think mayoral control should continue after the June 30 deadline for state legislators to decide the fate of the 7-year-old…
January 27, 2009
"We are all, now, education voters," Learn NY tells parents
Learn NY, the group lobbying the legislature to renew mayoral control, today sent out a second message to parent e-mail lists. The message addresses concerns from parents who've been wondering why they should support mayoral control if they don't support the mayor's education policies. Answers Learn NY, in the e-mail (reprinted in full below the jump): These are fair discussions, but I would like to state that I am not here to champion or defend specific policy decisions that the mayor has made. But the fact that parents are holding the mayor directly accountable for the changes in our schools highlights the key issue for those advocating for the renewal of the law-- for the first time, we have a line of responsibility: the schools are accountable to the mayor, and the mayor is accountable to us. We are all, now, education voters. Just as much as our next mayor is responsible for keeping the streets safe and providing city social services, the mayor's job description now includes education and there is a clear obligation to insure that our schools improve. Learn NY's first message to parents (and parent bloggers) was introductory. The full e-mail is after the jump.
January 26, 2009
In recruiting parents, mayoral control supporters hit snags
PHOTO: Hayleigh ColomboBrooklyn mom blogger Louise Crawford posted Learn NY's statement ##http://onlytheblogknowsbrooklyn.typepad.com/only_the_blog_knows_brook/2009/01/learn-new-york-educational-advocacy.html##on her web site##, but other parents are refusing. Learn NY is ramping up its dogged campaign to bring public school parents on board its effort to preserve mayoral control of the city schools. Its latest technique: asking parent-bloggers to post a canned introductory letter directly to their web sites. The group, which includes a set of four high-profile board members, some anonymous rich donors, and one seasoned political hand, was formed last year as the premier campaign to lobby for mayoral control when it comes up for renewal this spring. (The law could be scrapped, bringing back the old school board, revised, or kept intact.) Part of Learn NY's argument for keeping mayoral control is that, though some very vocal parents loudly criticize the system, a silent majority of non-loud parents support it — or would, if they properly understood what mayoral control is. The blogosphere campaign is part of its effort to find those parents and educate them. An earlier effort involved shooting off an arsenal of e-mails to parent e-mail lists. The campaign is hitting some snags. After e-mails went out to parent list-serves, Leonie Haimson, the executive director of Class Size Matters, denounced the group on the public school parents list serve she runs. Another blogger, David Quintana of Queens, who received an inquiry from Learn NY today, declined the offer and passed it on to press contacts. Quintana's blog includes a clock excitedly counting down the days, hours, minutes, and seconds left in the Bloomberg administration.
January 12, 2009
What's important about Shelly Silver's Joel Klein-phobia
Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver (via Flickr) The New York Post's headline today — "SILVER IS DISIN-KLEIN-ED" — is a fun, gossipy way of getting at a really important story. The thing is, it's not just Sheldon Silver, speaker of the Assembly, who doesn't like Joel Klein. Many of Silver's colleagues in the legislature are in the same boat. I first cataloged the grievances of a list of state senators and Assembly members in August. That was more than a year after an assemblyman from the Bronx, Ruben Diaz Sr., became the first public official to call on Bloomberg to fire Klein. Since then, I haven't found any lawmakers who don't complain about Klein. In fact, I've actually met one state senator, Kevin Parker of Brooklyn, who ideologically is in line with the administration, but opposes its reforms. The best explanation for this bad blood that the Post provides is this one, from "an official who knows both men": "You have two guys who both think they're the smartest guy in the room. Those two guys aren't going to like each other." But my understanding is that there's more than personalities at play here. There's a substantive difference in policy.
December 23, 2008
Questions for Caroline Kennedy about the city's public schools
From the department of questions Caroline Kennedy may or may not answer, here are two I sent to her via her spokesman yesterday: 1.
December 23, 2008
NYCLU: DOE's spot between city, state oversight leads to abuse
Another notable nugget from the mayoral control forum Friday came from Udi Ofer, the advocacy director at the New York Civil Liberties Union. NYCLU hasn't taken a position on the most basic question of mayoral control (should the mayor have control or should there be a school board), but the organization seems very likely to push for adding checks and balances to the Department of Education's authority. Echoing concerns that I wrote about last week, Ofer said a central problem lies in the Department of Education's peculiar position between being a state agency subject to state oversight and a city agency subject to city oversight. He gave two examples of how the dilemma plays out. The first is that the DOE, by his account, refuses to follow both the state and city versions of a law called the Administrative Procedures Act, which forces government agencies to, among other things, allow some finite public comment period before enacting new regulations. Here's his explanation (and below it I'll put his second example, the mayor's refusal to enact the City Council's Dignity in all Schools Act):
December 22, 2008
Why investigators don't send the PEP reports on their findings
An update on my post earlier today, about whether the school system’s Special Commissioner for Investigations should have to send his reports to more…
December 12, 2008
Diane Ravitch: Public input would prevent "huge mistakes"
The folks over at Teachers College’s After Ed TV today posted an interview with Diane Ravitch, the doyenne of education history world, all…
December 11, 2008
Learn NY introduces itself to parents by writing to e-mail lists
Learn NY also solicits parents' ideas on its web site. The lobbying group that is campaigning to preserve the mayor's control of the public school system is making good on its promise to reach out to parents. Today a staffer at the group, called Learn NY, sent an introductory message to e-mail lists run by public school parents. The staffer explained the group's mission, promised to send follow-up messages about the positive effects of mayoral control, and asked for feedback. She wrote: the more we hear from parents, the more we can improve the mayoral control law when it comes up for renewal next year. I would love to gather some feedback from you to help us better inform lawmakers in Albany of what's working and what's not. The messages went out to at least two list-serves, one for parents in District 3 and one for parents of gifted and talented students, at about the same time today, 11:50 a.m. and 11:52 a.m, respectively. One list has already seen some responses, a mix of confusion and suspicion. Here's one parent's reaction: In the interest of fairness, I suppose this person should be allowed to post.
December 2, 2008
To cut costs, report suggests mayoral control expand upstate
Another recommendation from the Suozzi report I wrote about earlier today, the one recommending ways for state schools to cut costs, is that the mayors of the Big Four cities — Rochester, Syracuse, Buffalo, and Yonkers — be granted control of their public school systems, like Mayor Bloomberg was in 2002. How could mayoral control cut school costs? The commission makes two arguments. One is that handing control to the mayor would allow for more efficient spending. The schools could be linked with other services under the mayor's purview, like parks, recreation, and social programs. The second argument is more long-term: Most importantly, if mayoral control is successful in improving school performance, there may be a positive effect on economic development, retention of middle class families, and protection or expansion of the property tax base. The arguments are interesting — especially because they provide two good yardsticks to measure New York City's mayoral control experiment.
November 24, 2008
Pro-mayoral control group has new name and will get a blog, too
The nonprofit pro-mayoral control advocacy group that was originally titled MASS, for Mayoral Accountability for Student Success, is now called Learn NY, and its official first day of existence is today. The group has close ties with the Bloomberg administration, but it is not being funded by the mayor, officials said in a background press conference with reporters this morning. Leonie Haimson of Class Size Matters has already done impressive digging into the group's media strategy. A spokesperson for the group confirmed to me today that the blog commenter Haimson noticed voicing his passion for mayoral control is indeed on the payroll of Learn NY. Brian Keeler, an online-media specialist who ran unsuccessfully for state senate in 2006 with the help of a following he built at Daily Kos, has been posting positive comments on this blog, Leonie's, and others. He is also an employee of the Web design firm that built Learn NY's Web site and will write a regular blog on the site, the spokesperson, Julie Wood, said. Something that will surely be asked — especially by critics of mayoral control and the Bloomberg administration, including Haimson — is how much of a "MASS" organization Learn NY really is.
November 17, 2008
Like DOE, mayoral control foes will focus message on results
The coalition protest yesterday at City Hall. (Courtesy Campaign for Better Schools) The newest addition to the debate over how much power the mayor should have over the public schools, a coalition of 25 community groups called the Campaign for Better Schools, unveiled its position yesterday [link corrected] — that the public should have a say in policies that rule the public schools. The pro-checks and balances stance is not a surprise. The groups behind this coalition — including the parent-led group called the Coalition for Educational Justice, the New York Immigration Coalition, the Hispanic Federation, and the NAACP — have campaigned against the mayor and Chancellor Joel Klein since they took office, often portraying them as orchestrating power plays against the public will. What is new is the argument the group is deploying to make its case. Rather than portray the mayor and Chancellor Joel Klein as dictators (remember the posters during the budget cut wars that portrayed Klein as a greedy "Simpsons" villain and Bloomberg as Pinocchio?), they are zeroing in on the pair's results — and calling them failures.
November 3, 2008
Mayoral control fan has a change of heart after term limits law
David Bloomfield surprised some of his fellow critics of the Department of Education back in March when he testified before the City Council in…
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