Kruger: Mayoral Control Bill 'DOA'
By Jimmy Vielkind, PolitickerNY.com
ALBANY—School governance legislation is in trouble.
A meeting last night between Senator John Sampson, the Democratic conference leader, and Senators Bill Perkins and Shirley Huntley with Deputy Mayors Kevin Sheekey and Dennis Walcott did not go well, a Democratic source said. Depending on the outcome of a Democratic conference scheduled for noon, the legislation might not be acted on. Some senators remain stridently opposed.
"That Assembly school governance bill is not a negotiated bill. It's DOA. City Hall is not a fourth branch of government," Senator Carl Kruger, a Brooklyn Democrat, just told me by phone. "Let's put it this way—to the extent that I can influence, I think they're going to hear the strong positions of the conference itself. We should be able to control the active list. Since we're in charge of the active list, then we have to bear a responsibility for what's on it."
The bill is not on an active list posted this morning. Austin Shafran, a Democratic spokesman, said "that list is not inclusive of all the bills that will be acted on today. More can be added.
"That's up to the members to decide," he said of the school governance legislation. "The importance of the issue hasn't diminished. But members of the conference still have some concerns of whether or not there will be enough measures to increase accountability and parental input."
Republicans were hoping to act on the school governance bill that already passed the Assembly. Democrats have proposed amendments to that bill, but some favor its passage. One of them, Senator Daniel Squadron, is on his honeymoon and will not be in session today.
"It's my understanding that that issue will come up today and tomorrow," Senator Tom Libous, a Binghamton Republican, told Fred Dicker on his radio show. "There's votes in our conference and some votes in the other conference, I suspect once it hits the floor it will pass. I don't see that issue as controversial."
Jimmy Vielkind can be reached via email at email@example.com.
July 16, 2009
Bloomberg’s School Control Bill Is Stalled in the Senate
By JEREMY W. PETERS, NY TIMES
ALBANY — Mayor Michael R. Bloomberg’s efforts to renew his control of New York City’s school system stalled on Wednesday as Senate Democrats insisted that they would not vote on a plan the mayor favors until he agreed to compromise on several key areas.
Talks between the mayor’s staff and groups of Democrats from the city who are seeking to amend the bill remained at an impasse on Wednesday.
Both sides appeared to only dig their heels in deeper, undercutting hopes that a resolution could be reached soon. The mayor, who has said the bill needs immediate approval so the school system can have a clear line of authority, was resolute about considering no changes. Senate Democrats, who would leave the mayor’s power intact but want some revisions, like giving parents opportunities to be more involved, said the bill was going nowhere without the changes. The Assembly passed the bill in mid-June.
The mayor’s chief spokesman, Stu Loeser, said in a written statement that the Senate was holding the bill hostage “to amendments that have not been the subject of public input, and which can be dealt with at a later date.” Mr. Loeser said the mayor would ask Gov. David A. Paterson to call the Senate back into special session until it passes the bill. Mr. Paterson’s office had no immediate response.
Democrats accused Mr. Bloomberg, whose power over the school system expired on June 30, of being inflexible.
“If the mayor’s people would just sit down at a table for an hour with a pencil and our amendments, this would all be over,” said Senator Eric T. Schneiderman, who represents parts of the Upper West Side and the Bronx.
Perhaps drawing on lessons learned from previous confrontations in Albany, Mr. Bloomberg stayed away from the Capitol while the school control bill was being negotiated. Members of his staff, including Deputy Mayors Dennis M. Walcott and Kevin Sheekey, who arrived in Albany on Wednesday, have been doing most of the talking with senators.
Still, even without Mr. Bloomberg’s involvement, the meetings have been testy. Members of the mayor’s staff met on Tuesday night with Senator Shirley L. Huntley of Queens to discuss her amendments, which would create a council to promote cultural education, establish a commission to study school safety and provide training for parents who want to be more involved.
“It wasn’t a good meeting,” Ms. Huntley said on Wednesday. “They don’t want to concede anything. We’re not asking for big things here. We’re not trying to break his power.”
Other proposals Democrats are discussing include limiting members of the school system’s governing board to fixed two-year terms and requiring that one of the mayor’s appointees to the board be a parent of a special education student.
School control was just one of several issues that senators were wrangling with on Wednesday. The division of Senate resources between Republicans and Democrats and rules changes that would empower rank-and-file senators were discussed at length. The Senate was scheduled to convene at 1 p.m., but by midnight, it had only taken up nominations sent by the governor, while Senate leaders continued to deliberate.
Javier C. Hernandez contributed reporting.
State Senate Puts Mayoral Control On Ice, Again
By: NY1 News
The State Senate was supposed to take up the issue of mayoral control of city schools Wednesday night, but it didn't even reach the floor.
In a Senate session that started seven hours late, the Democrats declined to take up the issue without making amendments to it.
The main change calls for the creation of a state commission on public safety, but Mayor Michael Bloomberg feels amendments aren't needed and pressed to keep lawmakers in Albany.
Amendments would have added oversight councils on arts and safety, among other changes.
"They're not God. We have the right to do an amendment. We have a right," said State Senator Shirley Huntley. "In this political structure since I've been here, everybody's afraid of someone. I'm afraid of no one. Who the hell cares? It's everybody is afraid that this one will be angry and that one will be angry, but if you came to operate on behalf of your constituents, you don't care."
Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver said it is too late for his house to change a bill that passed handily.
"The assembly has already passed the school governance of mayoral control in agreement with the governor and the mayor, so there's no reason for the assembly to return in August to achieve that," said Silver. "We've already done that in mid-June."
Control of city schools reverted back to the Board of Education on July 1 when the law expired during the month long power struggle in Albany.
Wednesday's senate agenda was also expected to include rules reform and the allocation of member items. Instead, state lawmakers concentrated on less controversial issues including the confirmation of several judges.
Meanwhile, a Long Island judge heard arguments Wednesday on the legality of Governor David Paterson's appointment of Richard Ravitch as lieutenant governor but did not render a decision.
State Supreme Court Justice William LaMarca heard from attorneys for the governor and from attorneys for two state senators who oppose the appointment as being unconstitutional.
LaMarca did not indicate when he might rule.
Senate Dems In No Rush On Mayoral Control
July 16, 2009
We could be in for another long day here at the Capitol.
Key Democratic senators told the DN's Glenn Blain they are still awaiting word from Team Bloomberg as to whether any amendments to the Assembly mayoral control bill are acceptable.
It remains unclear if the measure will be voted on today.
“I think that we will conference and whatever is good for the children of the city of New York is what the conference will do,” said Sen. Shirley Huntley, who is sponsoring one of the three Democratic chapter amendments to the Assembly bill.
“And we’re not in a hurry. I could be here forever,” the Queens lawmaker added.
Huntley said she met this morning with Deputy Mayor Dennis Walcott to discuss “issues” - including a memorandum of understanding and the proposed chapter amendments. Huntley mentioned that she wanted to see the role of district superintendents enhanced.
“We don’t feel you should pay superintendents $200,000 a year just to deal with parent problems,” she said.
Huntley said she would prefer that the Senate not vote today and instead wait for the Assembly to come back this fall so the two houses can vote on the chapter amendments at the same time.
“I doubt it will,” Huntley said when asked whether the Assembly bill will be acted upon today.
Republican Sen. Marty Golden went even further, saying flatly: "It's not going to happen". He blamed the Democrats for continuing to pile on amendments that the Bloomberg administration can't - or won't - accept.
Sens. Jeff Klein and Eric Schneiderman, however, were a bit more optimistic, saying negotiations are still underway.
“I’m hopeful,” Klein said. “I think it needs to be done...I would stay as long as it takes.”
Schneiderman insisted the entire matter could be resolved with “an hour of negotiations with people who are empowered to make a decisions," adding: "We can do this.”
Deputy Mayor Kevin Sheekey was in Albany yesterday to participate in the mayoral control talks, but has since departed for Washington, D.C., where the mayor is scheduled to testify on behalf of US Supreme Court nominee Sonia Sotomayor.
NYS Senate Nears Mayoral Control Vote
by Beth Fertig
NEW YORK, NY July 14, 2009 —Democrats who narrowly control the New York State Senate are getting closer to voting on a bill to extend mayoral control of the city schools, two weeks after the law expired during the leadership feud in Albany. WNYC's Beth Fertig has more.
REPORTER: A handful of Senate Democrats kept the bill from being voted on last week, when the Senate returned to session. They thought the Assembly's version didn't put enough checks on the mayor's power.
Now, three amendments to the bill call for creating a new council to monitor arts in education and parent training centers. There are also proposals to create a commission that would review data on police in the schools.
Senate leaders expect to vote on the Assembly bill and some combination of the amendments all at once. None of the changes goes as far as some originally wanted to limit the mayor's influence over the schools, and any changes would require final approval from the Assembly. For WNYC I'm Beth Fertig.
A close-up look at NYC education policy, politics,and the people who have been, are now, or will be affected by these actions and programs. ATR CONNECT assists individuals who suddenly find themselves in the ATR ("Absent Teacher Reserve") pool and are the "new" rubber roomers, people who have been re-assigned from their life and career. A "Rubber Room" is not a place, but a process.
Thursday, July 16, 2009
The statement below by Rudy Giuliani is interesting because of what he says about money and accountability. I am in no way endorsing Rudy Giuliani for any office.
Here is a peek at what he says below:
"The current schools budget is inscrutable, making it virtually impossible to determine how much money is spent on administrators, bureaucrats, vendors, contractors of all types and unfunded mandates. It was designed to shield administrators from accountability. It is a system that works to the advantage of bureaucrats and against the best interests of our children."
And, the NYC BOE budget was then $8 billion....now it's $22 billion. Have our schools improved? Why cant we get what we pay for?
A VISION FOR EDUCATION
Archives of RUDOLPH W. GIULIANI
THE WHARTON CLUB
AUGUST 11, 1995
A great city needs a great public school system.
To remain vibrant and dynamic New York City must be constantly energized and renewed by generations of young people, raised in our neighborhoods, educated in our schools, committed to their city and its continued vitality.
And indeed for generations the public school classrooms of New York City have shaped great minds... Innovators...artists and leaders...
Who in turn have changed the course of our nation's history...like Jonas Salk...James Baldwin...and General E. Colin Powell...
Men and women whose achievements have enriched our culture and inspired youngsters to reach ever higher...to imagine a future much brighter than the present.
Like Dr. Ellen S. Baker, who is living the dreams of so many American boys and girls as an astronaut-physician with NASA. Dr. Baker -- who happens to be the daughter of Queens Borough President Claire Shulman -- recently returned from the shuttle mission that docked with the Russian spacestation, Mir.
Dr. Baker is an outstanding role model for our city's youngsters...They need role models every bit as much as their mothers and fathers did -- maybe even more.
And New York City's school system must continue to produce them. Today's youngsters enter our school system eager to learn...eager to acquire the knowledge and skills that will allow them to succeed in an increasingly competitive marketplace.
Too often they leave school without them...
A Time to Act
I firmly believe that public school education in New York City has reached a turning point. If we fail to act now to bring the system under control...
To guarantee the safety and security of children, teachers, principals and staff...
To ensure that the system's $8 billion budget is spent on students -- not on bureaucracy...
To raise educational standards and restore sensible educational priorities in the classroom...
The entire system will be endangered.
According to a recent Quinnipiac poll, more than eighty percent of New Yorkers have lost confidence in the city's school system. If we don't do something now...that number could easily grow to one hundred percent.
If the system's deterioration is allowed to continue...we will see an increase in calls for privatization and vouchers -- alternatives, which in my view, will weaken the public school system...
And New York City's proud legacy of public education may well end.
An empire state survey released today finds that "60 percent of New Yorkers favor "a program which would allow parents to send their children to the public, parochial or private school of their choice and use state or local tax dollars to pay for all or part of it." 63 percent of black respondents and 63 percent of latino respondents favor such a system. In addition 73 percent of New Yorkers say they would send their children to private school if they could afford it. 74 percent of black...and 79 percent of Latino respondents say the same thing.
Already there is legislation pending in Albany for a demonstration voucher project. Other cities -- like Milwaukee -- are currently experimenting with vouchers.
...Still others...like Baltimore and Hartford...are privatizing some schools.
I do not want to see a voucher system in New York City. Our system is so large...that making that kind of transition would be very difficult...what is more, funding private and parochial school education with state and city funds would raise a number of complicated constitutional issues that would tie up the city in litigation for years to come.
I know that many people fear change. I know that the schools bureaucracy fears the changes I have proposed. But the failure to change poses greater dangers to our schools than any changes we might implement.
The failure to change almost certainly will ensure the end of the present system as we know it...because the New York public school system is failing too many of our children...It's time to remake our system.
One model we can use to guide us is our city's parochial school system...
Now, I know that many people will object to the comparison...because they say the systems are too different...there are differences -- to be sure -- but there are also similarities. In fact, the two systems are more alike than many people realize.
For instance, both systems are large. (the New York City public school system has an enrollment of 1.035 million). The archdiocese of New York and the diocese of Brooklyn, which together encompass all the Catholic schools in the five boroughs, have an enrollment of more than 150,000 (151,075). If it were a public school system the city's parochial system would be the second largest in the state...and the eleventh largest in the country.
Many people believe that parochial schools take only the best students -- those most likely to succeed academically.
The city's Catholic and public school systems enroll about the same proportion of students who have what educators call "multiple risk factors" -- meaning that they come from low-income families, single parent homes, with parents who didn't finish high school and a sibling who dropped out of school.
Yet our city's Catholic schools are far more successful in educating students:
In New York City Catholic schools have a 0.1 percent drop out rate...compared to an 18 percent dropout rate in the city's public schools.
Students from the city's Catholic schools pass the Regents competency tests at higher rates than their public school counterparts.
In reading, the Catholic school passing rate is 29 percent higher...
In writing, 19 percent higher...
In math, 21 percent higher...
And in science, 26 percent.
Why do Catholic schools do so much better than our public schools? There are several reasons, Including the fact that Catholic schools have high standards, and encourage the participation of parents. Parochial schools give parents a choice of schools for their children. that gives families -- not bureaucrats -- real power.
And the parochial school system has minimal administrative overhead...which means that more money makes it into the classrooms...to teachers and students.
Consider for a moment the example set by Bishop Loughlin high school in Fort Greene, Brooklyn.
The school has an enrollment of about 900 students -- 99.9 percent of whom are minority....85 percent African American...14 percent Latino. The student body is pretty evenly split between males and females (55 percent male to 45 percent female).
While most of these youngsters enter the school with math and reading skills below grade level, 90 percent of them go on to college.
That's a success rate any school would be proud to achieve.
But as the principal, Brother James Bonilla, will tell you, he has certain advantages over his counterparts in the New York City public schools.
For one thing he enjoys real autonomy. A great many functions are controlled at the school level. Brother James and the teachers at Bishop Loughlin set the curriculum and design courses that meet the needs of their students. The teaching staff encourages parents to provide input. They work at creating a community within the school.
Moreover, Brother James controls the budget of Bishop Loughlin high school, because the city's parochial school system has school-based budgeting. He is free to make decisions about spending priorities without interference from a central administration.
And Brother James notes that unlike so many public school principals in our city...he has never had a problem with custodial services...because as principal he has always been in charge.
Brother James gets results from students because he and the teachers at Bishop Loughlin have high expectations...they set high standards...and work to help the students meet those standards.
And Brother James has the ability to expel rowdy students...but the school doesn't simply rid itself of all its problem students...
Far from it: the school's expulsion rate is only about 2 percent. Nevertheless...the ability to expel students is valuable tool in maintaining order in the classroom.
As an alumnus of Bishop Loughlin high school, I can tell you that the mere possibility of that sanction has a powerful disciplinary effect.
In the end, Brother James is held accountable for the way Bishop Loughlin high school operates...for how it spends its money and -- most important -- for how well it educates its students.
It's a burden Brother James gladly accepts...and it's a burden the vast majority of the principals in our city's public schools would gladly assume...provided they are given the freedom to run their schools...
Restoring educational priorities
So where do we begin?
We can start by ending practices that waste money -- and harm children...
For example, we must do away with the practice of so-called "social promotion," whereby students who don't meet academic standards for promotion from one grade to the next are moved ahead anyway.
This system cheats our children...It tells them, "it doesn't matter what you do. It doesn't matter how hard you try...or whether you try at all." In short, it tells youngsters that their school work doesn't matter.
The fact is, children respond to standards...they rise to the level of their teachers' expectations. They need to be challenged, by teachers who care about them...who want them to succeed.
An investigation by the New York post revealed that students who are promoted in elementary school based on their age, rather than their academic attainments, often require expensive remedial assistance in highschool. Their academic problems only worsen as they are shunted ahead into increasingly challenging courses for which they are not ready.
The results? Discouraged students...many of whom fail to graduate on time or drop out.
And, according to the post study, a $272 million-a-year tax on the city school system -- the price tag for remedial coursework. Educational experts agree the expense of remedial education rises with each grade because it takes longer to overcome deep-seated problems.
Every education dollar is precious. And, when court decrees and state and federal mandates compel us to spend these dollars unwisely...these mandates must be changed.
For instance, we must go to court immediately and redefine our special education system...so that it can work again for the school children who need it. It must not remain a dumping ground for children with behavioral problems special ed was never intended to address. And we've got to restructure the system so it can work in a cost-effective manner.
We must close the gap between what the system spends on special education -- almost $22,000 per student -- and what it spends on the rest of its students -- approximately $5,000 per student. There must be greater balance between spending on special education and mainstream programs.
Changing the way the New York City public school system administers special education programs is about more than just money. It's about ensuring that children get the services that meet their particular needs. It means ensuring that only children who need special education wind up in special education programs. And it means making sure that if and when those children no longer need these programs they are returned to the mainstream.
Once again, we must ensure that the system works for our children. Their needs should drive the system...their needs should determine how programs function. The needs of the bureaucracy should never govern how children are educated.
A Budget for Every School
We must have a budget for every school...which means passing a state law that will permit us to do that. School-based budgeting will change the way the Board of Education spends its money.
Right now the money flows from the top down. The board receives $8 billion...spends a large portion of those funds on administrative functions...and divides what remains among the city's schools. Finally, a small portion of that money trickles down to the classroom.
The money should flow in the opposite direction: from the bottom up. There should be a budget for every school, so that principals -- not administrators in a central or district office -- can decide how best to spend that money to benefit students. The Board of Education's $8 billion budget should be divided among the city's approximately 1,085 schools, with whatever is left over -- hopefully very little -- going to administration.
Then we can hold the principals accountable for the way their schools function, instead of the insulated, alienated bureaucracies at 110 Livingston Street and at the 32 District Boards.
Making the Budget Understandable
The current schools budget is inscrutable, making it virtually impossible to determine how much money is spent on administrators, bureaucrats, vendors, contractors of all types and unfunded mandates. It was designed to shield administrators from accountability. It is a system that works to the advantage of bureaucrats and against the best interests of our children.
Just last year, Herman Badillo, my special advisor for fiscal oversight for the Board of Education, found that the board was unable to tell him how many employees it has...or where they work...because its personnel operations use five separate computer systems, which are not compatible with one another.
That just doesn't make sense.
The Board of Education must install a modern, transparent, and understandable accounting system, one that can readily distinguish between administrative costs and school-based expenses.
The change will permit each and every one of us -- the mayor, taxpayers and parents -- understand which resources actually reach children and which do not.
Keeping our Children Safe
Our children increasingly are at risk in one of the very places they should feel most secure -- the classroom.
The Board of Education's Division of School Safety has proven unable to curb the escalating violence in our schools, despite a budget of $75 million and a force of 3,000 officers, which would make it the nation's seventh largest police department.
The failure of the Division of School Safety is written in the numbers. While major crime in our city declined by 11.7 percent last year, the Board of Education reports that serious crime -- including assault, robbery and sex offenses -- in and around our public schools increased 15.5 percent in the 1993-94 school year. Serious crime around schools increased 47.5 percent compared to the previous year.
And the situation is getting worse. While the crime rate is falling even faster in the city at large -- serious felony crime fell by more than 18 percent in the first half of 1995 -- violent crime in the schools shot up 28 percent in the first six months of this past school year.
A recent audit determined that part of the problem is the quality of the force entrusted with the security and well-being of staff and students. Allegations of misconduct by school safety officers, including rape and drug charges, raise serious questions about the hiring practices employed by the Division of School Safety. And the recent cases are not isolated incidents. Since 1991, 161 school guards have been arrested for crimes ranging from having sex with students to possessing weapons and narcotics.
We must make restoring safety in the schools a top priority, because children cannot learn when they are afraid -- nor can teachers teach in a classroom ruled by fear. No other improvement we make in the school system will have a real, lasting impact on education so long as violence and fear are a regular part of the school day for many of our children.
That is why I believe that the NYPD must screen, train and supervise school safety officers. In some schools, principals and teachers are too intimidated to deal with the criminal activity threatening students, teachers and staff. The NYPD has the skills, experience and resources to do the job.
The NYPD can provide screening, training and supervision to turn the Division of School Safety into a professional, disciplined force, sensitive to the needs of students, teachers and staff.
An End to Waste
The New York City public school system has an $8 billion budget.
That's a budget nearly twice as large as that of the United States Commerce Department ($4.2 billion).
It's bigger than the budget of the U.S. State Department ($5.6 billion).
It's larger than the budget for the entire state of Michigan ($7 billion).
New york city spends more on education than the state of North Carolina ($6.3 billion)...more than the states of Georgia ($5.1 billion)...and Virginia ($1.7 billion)...combined.
The New York City public school system's $8 billion budget would place it in the top echelon of the nation's fortune 500 companies. The schools budget is bigger than the total revenues of companies like Viacom ($7.6 billion)...Colgate-Pamolive ($7.58 billion)...Time Warner ($7.4 billion)...and Coca-Cola ($6.01 billion).
The point I'm making isn't that we're spending too much on education -- it's that the amount of money is not the issue.
The issue is how that money is spent.
And the point is that much of the school system's $8 billion budget is wasted.
It's that simple.
For example...a fifteen-month probe by ed stancik, the special commission of investigation for city schools revealed gross mismanagement in food services led to as many as 1,000 children suffering symptoms of food poisoning.
The report detailed cases of children being served outdated and rancid food, ranging from 16-month old ground beef to two-year-old turkey.
The heart of the issue is accountability. In the current system no one is held accountable for poor test scores, inadequate security, bad food, waste and fraud.
You know, at town hall meetings throughout the city parents often ask me why their children's schools are in such bad shape. As mayor...I do not have authority over the school budget...
I want to change that. Together with the mayors of New York's other "big six cities," I am supporting legislation in Albany to give control over the education budget to the mayor.
This control would be no different than the fiscal oversight that the mayor has over the Parks Department, the Police Department or the Sanitation Department.
Many of the nation's mayors -- from places as disparate as Indianapolis and Washington, D.C. -- are asking that they be held accountable for education in their communities. Mayor daley of chicago recently succeeded in securing legislation that gives him authority over that city's troubled school system.
Like New York, Chicago had a public school system that for years was plagued by administrative and financial problems...and produced disappointing academic results.
Now the mayor has control of the bureaucracy...and he's taken steps to impose fiscal restraint and more accountability on the system...freeing teachers and principals to do what they do best -- teach children.
It's a good idea, and well worth trying here.
Let me be very clear about one thing:
I do not want control of the curriculum. There are many qualified, dedicated teachers and principals in the New York City public school system. These educational professionals, together with parents, should determine the content and structure of the school day.
Several weeks ago (July 18) I met a wonderful woman who has dedicated her life to our city's children. I presented a certificate of appreciation to Alice Connolly -- an 88-year-old New York City public school teacher. Upon her mandatory retirement in 1977, ms. Connolly -- then age 70 -- embarked on a new phase of her career, becoming a full-time volunteer teacher at PS 175 on City Island, where she teaches English as a second language to third through sixth graders.
Alice Connolly is an inspiration to me -- and to countless teachers just starting their careers...dedicated to helping our city's children reach their potential.
We must act now to give teachers like Alice Connolly the freedom to exercise their educational expertise. We must ensure that teachers and principals have the freedom they need to make the learning experience a rewarding one for New York City's school children. Right now they lack that freedom. Teachers and principals are fettered by a school system that cannot provide safe and secure classrooms...a school system that diverts precious education dollars to administration and bureaucracy...a school system more concerned with preserving the status quo than with enhancing education.
The worst thing we can do for our children is to do nothing.
Some thoughts on the Next Chancellor
The prospect of a change of leadership in the New York City public school system offers a golden opportunity to change the direction of education in our city.
The Board of Education should work closely with me and my administration to ensure that the next Chancellor is someone committed to change...committed to remaking our city's troubled school system.
We need a Chancellor who cares about children. But we must have a Chancellor who understands how take a huge, complicated, and unwieldy bureaucracy and strip it to its essentials...to ensure that every education dollar goes to educating children. Compassion without real management skills won't do our school system or our children any good.
Perhaps the next Chancellor should be a creative administrator with high-level management skills. Someone with experience in managing a multi-billion dollar enterprise...possibly someone with experience in the private sector...someone who has had the experience of answering to stockholders...the experience of being held accountable for fiscal decisions and practices...
...because there are many, many men and women in the private sector who care deeply about children...who are committed to using their talents to help improve our society.
It is possible that we will find a public-sector administrator who can handle the process of budgeting and managing in an responsible and creative manner -- with the track record to prove it.
-- an educator with administrative experience in a large organization.
In any case the next Chancellor should be able to communicate to the public a vision of how this public school system can be remade to energize a new generation...to prepare youngsters to seize the opportunities they will encounter in the coming years.
A great schools Chancellor must manage...a great schools Chancellor must also inspire.
To find someone able to fill that role we must have an open, intensive selection process...we should cast our net wide and consider candidates that in the recent past would not have received consideration. Twenty-five years ago the Board of Education did not assume that only an educational professional was capable of leading the system. Describing the board's Chancellor search in 1970, the New York times noted that "originally the board hoped to find a public figure of national prominence, rather than a professional." And the Board actually approached a number of public servants, including Arthur Goldberg, Ralph Bunche and Sargent Shriver.
In the end, we may find an educator with the management skills and creativity to remake our system. The important thing is to make sure that we have chosen the next Chancellor from the best possible pool of candidates.
I want to be very clear on what I am suggesting...I am suggesting merely that the board consider candidates with experience in the private sector...I am not saying that a candidate with such experience is the only acceptable candidate...
The fact that some Board members have rejected even considering a non-educator is a sure sign of bureaucratic rigor mortis....a sign that the system is so frightened of change that it cannot bear to think in non-traditional ways.
Just consider for a moment...what would happen if someone like Colin Powell were available to serve as schools Chancellor...someone of national stature...with experience running the government's largest agency...a product of New York City public schools...a leader with a demonstrated interest in young people.
Would we reject him out of hand because he may never have taken "Education 101"?
The fact is that if someone like general powell were under consideration -- even if he ultimately declined or if the board ultimately decided against his selection -- it would elevate the entire process.
But by refusing even to consider a candidate who lacks formal education credentials, the board discourages many good people from applying for the position.
We have many, many fine educators in our school system. But they are shackled by a dysfunctional system.
An experienced, hands-on manager could effect the necessary changes that would free teachers and principals to spend their time and talents educating our city's children.
The Future of our Public Education System
Thomas Jefferson once noted that "no democracy can function effectively without an educated and informed populace."
And ultimately that really is the point. The future health and vitality of our society depends on our ability to properly educate our children...to guarantee that they have the skills...the confidence...and the opportunity to reach their full potential...to become full participants in our democracy.
I want to set our schools back on the right course...I want to make children the focus of the system -- their safety...their security...their health...their education...
Education is 25 percent of the city's budget...but it's one hundred percent of our city's future.
All our efforts to enhance public safety and stimulate economic growth won't matter, if we don't provide our children with the tools they need to succeed in the better city we seek to build.
New York City is a beacon of hope to millions around the world and here in America. New york City has provided generations of immigrants the opportunity to rise up...to become a part of the American dream.
Our public school system has been the means by which generations of New Yorkers have achieved their dreams. It still can be.
I cannot help but think of what a wonderful role model Dr. Baker has become for the children of our city and our entire nation. She has now made three spaceflights, conducting important research on the way the human body reacts to prolonged spaceflight....research that one day will be used by nasa in building the first permanent space station.
The time has come to remake our city's public school system...to ensure that the dollars we dedicate to education...reach our classrooms...so that dedicated teachers and principals can help all our students do what Dr. Ellen Baker has done -- reach for the stars.
Posted by Betsy Combier at 8:28 AM No comments:
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