"A child's learning is the function more of the characteristics of his classmates than those of the teacher." James Coleman, 1972

Friday, July 03, 2009

Little Mike Bloomberg and the Riots That Never Came

It is done! As Albany continued to wallow on Tuesday without a decision on renewing Bloomberg's choke hold on NYC Schools, the Little Dictator declared that if his reign were to end, parents would be in the streets with torches. The rantings of another Billion Dollar Bubble Boy:
. . . .The effect of the inaction on school governance is harder to predict. For the past few months, Bloomberg has sought to portray the expiration of mayoral control of the school system in its most apocalyptic terms: riots in the streets, a return to the Soviet Union and so on. But in a press briefing yesterday, Bloomberg said his administration "will work hard to shield New York's children and their parents from the chaos." Schools, he said, "will not be padlocked" and summer school will open as scheduled today.

Instead of invoking images of angry mobs on the Grand Concourse, Bloomberg said the confusion over how to run the system would bring in lawyers -- and litigation. "Every decision -- from personnel decisions to policy decisions -- will be subject to litigation and uncertainty," Bloomberg continued.

That confusion arises partly because, as Philissa Cramer observed in Gotham Schools, the school governance law passed in 2002 calls for the law to sunset after seven years but "doesn’t include instructions for reconstituting the old school board or dismantling the current system."

The mayor foresees "a nightmare flashback to the days when politics ruled the schools." But some experts believe he may be overstating the effects of the current law's expiration. While the city would have to reconstitute a Board of Education, they say, that board could decide to continue most school policies and practices while waiting for the legislature to pass a school governance bill.

"If the mayor acts... at least changing the structure on top, then I think it's wrong to foresee any potential litigation," Udi Ofer, the policy director of the New York Civil Liberties Union, has said.

David Bloomfield, an expert on education law who teaches at Brooklyn College, has said the state education law provides for clear lines of authority. Bloomfield sees only two credible circumstances that could lead to litigation: The mayor could file suit against a Board of Education or suits could be filed against the administration if he decides to ignore the resurrected board. . . .

1 comment:

  1. It seems likely to me that the sunset of mayoral control will have no effect whatsoever, and whether or not it is renewed will also be of no consequence. The board's president is the deputy mayor, and all but one member appear to do the mayor's bidding without question. He isn't even restricted by the extremely weak language on the Assembly bill regarding no bid contracts.