Category Archives: Schools

All Power is Fungible

de Blasio in Albany

Photo: NY Daily News

Bill de Blasio shlepped to Albany this week to convince the state senate to extend mayoral control of NYC schools for seven more years. Control had been granted to his predecessor, Mike Bloomberg, for seven years in 2002, and extended for six additional years in 2009.

When de Blasio asked the legislature in 2015 to approve mayoral control on a permanent basis, the senate rebuffed him, granting him a one-year extension instead.

Legislators stated they wanted to assess the city’s educational progress before making a permanent commitment. Left unstated was that they didn’t want to give up their opportunity to use periodic renewal of mayoral control as a way to remind de Blasio and his successors that the city is a creature of the state.

Albany’s legislators also know that a mayor who must ask them repeatedly for authorization to run his school system will be more apt to urge his commissioners to be responsive when legislators seek help for their constituents.

Governor Andrew Cuomo stated early this year that he favors a three-year term for mayoral control.

Predictably, de Blasio’s supporters included his popular schools chancellor, Carmen Fariña. Just as predictably, de Blasio received support from Partnership for New York City CEO Kathryn Wylde, who was quoted in The Wall Street Journal as commenting after the meeting that “The business community would like to see permanent extension and not have this be a political issue.”

Evidently, like the state legislators, Wylde understands that the issue is not only about education but also is about fungible power: A mayor free of obligations to Albany’s elected officials is a mayor freer to support the needs of his most influential constituency, the city’s business community.

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Where are NYC’s Science Talent Winners?

Leonie Haimson documents a precipitous drop in NYC’s share of semifinalists in the Intel Science Talent Search program during the Bloomberg/Klein administration.

Let’s see how this one gets spun.

(Class) Size Matters, but Power Matters More

Leonie Haimson

Leonie Haimson needs help. New York’s most passionate education blogger has not appreciably changed the way the city’s public schools are run. A persistent critic of Mike Bloomberg’s educational policies, and president of a group called Class Size Matters, Haimson gets noticed but continues to be shrugged off by City Hall.

It doesn’t matter how many “ordinary” New Yorkers agree with Haimson. City voters have almost no power to shape municipal policy. They lost most of their clout two decades ago when they approved a new government structure that gave the mayor almost sole control over the city’s budget, land use, contracts, and, de facto, over the City Council itself. (Most Council members would deny this.)

Even a local referendum to change the city charter can be preempted by the mayor. Today, New Yorkers usually must resort to litigation or to state intervention to derail an initiative the mayor truly wants. Continue reading

An Equal-Opportunity Offender

Bloomberg, Black, and Klein

Mayor Michael Bloomberg’s designation of Cathie Black as the next schools chancellor offends almost everyone.

To educators, Black’s lack of education credentials (like Joel Klein’s) shows Bloomberg’s basic disrespect for their profession. How would physicians react to the designation of a publishing executive as Surgeon General, or lawyers to Black’s designation as U.S. Attorney General? Continue reading

Close ’em Down!

Sometimes it’s easy to tell a story. Here are the first two items in the October 29th “Rise & Shine” story listing on the education blog GothamSchools.org.

* SUNY wants to try fixing failing charter schools instead of shutting them down. (Post)

* The city says it is considering closing up to 47 schools this year. (GS, Times, PostWSJ, NY1)

And they say that Albany is dysfunctional?

Lipstick on a Pig

Source: NYC DOE

We like standardized tests almost as much as Bloomberg and Klein do, so we’ll give you a multiple choice quiz:

Question 1: Which of the following headlines — all triggered by the same Department of Education school ratings press release — is the most attention-grabbing?

(a) “Schools Get Report Cards From City Education Dept.”
(b) “With Standards Tightened, Far Fewer New York City Schools Receive a Grade of ‘A’”
(c) “Just 5% of city’s elementary/middle schools got Ds and Fs this year in new progress reports”
(d) “Progress Absent at Most Schools”
(e) “Grade shock: Regular schools top charters” Continue reading

Why Wait for Superman?

This is not about “Waiting for Superman,” Davis Guggenheim’s heavily hyped new documentary, which examines the success of Geoffrey Canada’s Harlem Children’s Zone and the KIPP charter schools, and asserts that reform efforts to improve public education are being actively resisted by America’s teachers unions.

No, this is about film critics for the New York Times, the Daily News, and the NY Post using their editorial platforms to inject calumny into an already-difficult national dialogue, where they are impeding the very reforms they seek. Continue reading