En Español Know Your Rights
Source: Daily News
Subject: Education Justice
Type: Media Coverage

Bloomberg flunked: Bill in Albany would take away mayor’s control of city education policy panel

The battle for control over city schools is heating
up with a bill quietly being floated in the Legislature that would weaken the
mayor’s tight grip on education.  

The bill,
which is backed by the
**Campaign For Better Schools, would take control of the city
education policy panel and its chairman away from the mayor. 

It has
support from at least five lawmakers. 

Billy Easton, an organizer of the **Campaign for Better
Schools, a coalition of 25 community groups
that has been tied to the city and state teacher
unions in the past, argued that the proposal provides more checks and balances,
transparency, and parental involvement. "We think that this gives [the
city] mayoral control. We are just opposed to one-man rule," Easton said.  

The
Bloomberg administration ripped the plan as a major step backward. 

"This
is an outline for ending mayoral control," said Bloomberg spokeswoman Dawn
Walker. "The return to an unaccountable board would leave no one … held
responsible for failed policies and poor performing schools – except the
students." 

Under the
proposal, the 13-member panel would grow to 17. 

The mayor
would have eight appointments, one less than the majority. He now has the
majority of appointments. 

Borough
presidents, the City Council, the governor, the Assembly speaker and the Senate
majority leader would each appoint one member. Panel members would serve two-year
terms, stripping the mayor of his ability to replace board members at will. 

The new
chairman would be chosen by the Panel for Educational Policy among its voting
members. 

The panel
would vote on the Education Department’s annual budget, capital plan, contracts
exceeding $200,000 and changes to educational policies and standards. 

The mayor
would still unilaterally appoint the chancellor. 

Other
provisions would give district superintendents and local Community Education
Councils more power and direct the city controller and Independent Budget
Office to scrutinize the Education Department’s finances and academic scores. 

Assemblymen
Carl Heastie (D-Bronx) and Hakeem Jeffries (D-Brooklyn) and Sens. Kevin Parker
(D-Brooklyn), Diane Savino (D-Staten Island) and Bill Perkins (D-Manhattan)
have signed on to the measure, which is not yet introduced. 

Assembly
Speaker Sheldon Silver (D-Manhattan) and Senate Majority Leader Malcolm Smith
(D-Queens) this week said they support keeping the panel in the hands of the
mayor.

**Make the Road NY is an active “Campaign for Better
Schools” coalition member.