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The Picador Precedes the Matador: The Toreadors Begin To Encircle Mayoral Control

[Editor’s note: Peter Goodman blogs at Ed in the Apple, where this post originally appeared.]

On Tuesday, a combined meeting of the New York State Assembly and Senate selected three members of the Board of Regents, they reappointed Geraldine Chapey and appointed two new members, Betty Rosa and Lester Young.

Rosa was the Community Superintendent in District 8 in the Bronx and highly regarded by the Bronx political and educational pre-Klein establishment. Young was Community Superintendent in District 13 in Brooklyn, served a year under Klein as the first Director of the Office of Student Placement, Youth and Family Support Services (SPYFSS).

Both spent decades working their way up through “the system” and represented all that Klein has been so busy tearing down.

On the legislative side two bills have been introduced in the Assembly that “nibble away” at mayoral control. One bill would require public hearings on school closing with time limits and the second would create community district education council principal selection committees.

The debate over mayoral control models is heating up as legislative bodies and the think tank/not for profit/university community begins to chime in. Diane Ravitch at Pace University, the panel discussion last week at the New School (that will up on a video feed within a week).

There are a number of schools of thought:

  • the picador approach: weaken mayoral control now, nibble away at the power of the Chancellor, send a clear signal, and remake the entire system next year.
  • the “iron is hot/do it now” approach: there is a growing consensus that mayoral control must be redesigned from the top down … if you wait until next year, in the midst of a mayoral election, election politics will “eat up” any attempt at a reasoned approach to designing a new system. Remake it now.
  • the “mayor or the model” approach: would we be so incensed if we had a different mayor? Is it the model or the mayor: do oppose mayoral control or is it the Bloomberg/Klein approach? Why not wait until after the November, 2009 election?
  • the “cynical” approach: let mayoral control sunset, a new Mayor is elected and would have to negotiate with the legislature …

The transparency and sunlight of the current governance debate is the essence of a democratic society. All the stakeholders are chiming in … as the months pass the debate will only increase providing the legislature with an early window for changes.

And, of course, a new governor, getting up to speed on the range of issues, is another ingredient in the stew.

It will be an interesting spring.



  • 1 jd2718
    · Mar 19, 2008 at 8:53 pm

    Four choices, but the first three are to keep mayoral control?

    I kind of think there are two choices.


  • 2 paulrubin
    · Mar 19, 2008 at 10:23 pm

    The debate shouldn’t be about Mayoral control. The debate needs to be about having a collaborative system of control that takes into consideration the expertise and needs of all the interested parties (the students, their parents, school administration, teachers, central DOE administration and the politicians) and do more than pay them lip service, give out surveys and make dictatorial pronouncements.

    We elect our Mayor to run the city and he appoints a Chancellor to run our schools. That doesn’t mean they aren’t accountable to heed the wishes of those they govern and for better or worse that is the way this administration comes off. They have forgotten that the children belong to their parents, not the politicians.

    It’s also not just a local problem. The absurd emphasis and inappropriate usage of standardized testing is a national problem that has grown out of a desire to attach numbers to what is a complex art and to draw conclusions from tests that are flawed for this purpose. Businesses perhaps can operate in a system that is governed by numbers and profit and loss. Children aren’t widgets or provided services.

    So the debate shouldn’t just be about who’s in charge. It needs to be about working as a team and making educationally sound decisions. Plenty of good ideas have come out of the Bloomberg administration but they are simply too arrogant to keep what’s obviously good and change what’s obviously not and that’s why there’s even a debate about mayoral control.

  • 3 NYC Educator: Leadership
    · Mar 24, 2008 at 9:45 am

    […] it appears they’re already flying the white flag of surrender. This week, UFT bigshot Peter Goodman suggested on Edwize that anyone who wanted mayoral control to expire was “cynical.””Cynical” denotes having no faith in […]