What people are saying about Mayoral control and the Parent Commission.....

..... at the  Education Equality Project conference..... Mr. Sharpton turned the floor over to Councilman Charles Barron, a frequent critic of New York's education reform efforts.  "The mayor is out of control," Mr. Barron bellowed to scattered cheers from the audience of about 200. "No one should have that dictatorial, autocratic power." .  .. . When the time came for questions, audience members directed their concerns at Mr. Klein and his leadership of the 1.1 million-student school system over the past seven years.They said he had eviscerated the power of local school boards and left parents without a voice in the decision-making process. Some booed the chancellor ...   --  NY Times,  April 3. 2009

Barron also criticized Klein ... saying that the chancellor lacks any pedagogical expertise. ...Members of a group that pushes for revising the mayoral control law when it comes up for renewal this summer wore pins supporting their position and passed out fliers advertising their views. Several critics also challenged Klein's characterization of improvements made under his watch, saying that students are graduating without being prepared for college and that schools lack black history teaching.

A Harlem father, Vernon Ballard, said he lacks a voice in the school system — and leaders are not held accountable — when the mayor has total control.  "There is accountability," Klein replied. "You have the chance to express your voice here." Many members of the audience broke into laughter.  --- Gotham Schools, April 3, 2009

Members of the Campaign for Better Schools, which is lobbying for significant changes to mayoral control,had deposited their organization's platform, printed on bright yellow paper, on each chair before the event began.  Members of the Parent Commission on School Governance, also outspoken critics of Klein's, were also on hand to distribute fliers with their recommendations.--  Gotham Schools, April 2, 2009

As he's done in recent days,Duncan continued touting the benefits of mayoral control of urban school districts  ...  When he made the same pitch earlier in the day at the National Action Network's meeting in Midtown, it was met with an audible chorus of boos ...   --NY Post, April 2, 2009

Schools Chancellor Joel I. Klein and the Rev. Al Sharpton, co-sponsored a conference of the Education Equality Project....  After Education Secretary Arne Duncan spoke enthusiastically about giving mayors of large cities control over their schools, saying that "we need the collective weight of the entire city behind us," many in the audience responded with skeptical boos...

Mr. Sharpton said in an interview on Thursday that he would not support the extension of mayoral control in its current form, suggesting that he agreed with criticism from some corners that the Bloomberg administration has marginalized parents in the last several years.  "We feel there needs to be more of a role for parental involvement," Mr. Sharpton said. "We have to find a way to address that. We would not support the legislation as it is now." -- NY  Times, April 2, 2009

The Rev. Al Sharpton and Schools Chancellor Joel Klein stunned the education world last June when they joined forces to reform the nation's public schools.They called their ambitious venture the Education Equality Project ... What Klein and Sharpton never revealed is that the National Action Network, Sharpton's organization, immediately received a $500,000 donation for its involvement in the new effort. The huge infusion of cash - equal to more than a year's payroll for Sharpton's entire organization - was quietly provided by Plainfield Asset Management, a Connecticut-based hedge fund, where former Chancellor Harold Levy is a managing director.

The money came at a critical moment for the National Action Network. Sharpton was then settling a long-running IRS investigation of his organization. As part of that settlement, he agreed in July to pay $1 million in back taxes and penalties both he personally and his organization owed the government. … Levy funneled the cash to another nonprofit, Education Reform Now, which allowed his company to claim the donation as a charitable tax deduction. The money was then transferred in several payments to Sharpton's group, which does not have tax-deductible status because it is a lobbying organization.... - Daily News, April 1, 2009

Schools Chancellor Joel Klein has used taxpayers' time to raise $1.5 million for a national nonprofit he co-founded last year -- with the blessing of the city's ethics board...  In November, Klein and other top Department of Education staffers were quietly granted permission by the city's Conflict of Interest Board to raise funds "using both city time and city resources" for the Education Equality Project. .... Council of School Supervisors and Administrators President Ernie Logan, who is himself a signatory of the Education Equality Project's platform, called the fund-raising arrangement "the most absurd thing I've ever heard."  ---NY Post, March 30, 2009  

The biggest uproar has been sparked by DOE's aggressive policy of putting new charters in existing public schools without seeking parent approval.  "It's the same in every neighborhood," said Monica Major, president of the Community Education Council in District 11 in the Bronx. "The DOE just tells you they're putting a new charter in your building and you have to force them to even have a conversation about it."

...Public school parent leaders say they don't oppose charters. They just want the DOE to abide by state law and consider the views of the local Community Education Councils, the successors to the old community school districts, before making those decisions.  "They continually create this atmosphere of animosity toward parents," Major said. That's why she joined the Parent Commission on School Governance, a volunteer group that just released a proposal to sharply curb mayoral control of the schools.  -- Daily News, March 24, 2009

Hundreds of parents and community leaders turned out for the last state Assembly hearing about mayoral control over city schools. The law that gives Mayor Bloomberg control is up for renewal in June. WNYC's Beth Fertig has more.

REPORTER: Patricia Connelly, of a group called the Parent Commission, told lawmakers the Department of Education routinely makes decisions about opening and closing schools without community involvement.

CONNELLY: The parent commission rejects the condescending autocracy that currently masquerades as parent engagement.

REPORTER: Connelly's group called for a partnership with the mayor, by diluting his power over an existing panel on education policy. --WNYC,  March 21, 2009

A group called the Parent Commission ... said the law should be changed so the mayor can't have ultimate power over school policies. Legislators have until the end of June to decide whether to renew the law that gave the mayor control over schools. -- WNYC, March 20, 2009

There were hundreds of parents, advocates and union members filling the seats at the Assembly hearings on governance at Lehman College on Friday. The morning started off with a bang with testimony from a panel of Parent Commission members, putting forward their proposals on how the current governance system should be reformed.

Monica Major, president of Community Education Council 11 in the Bronx, Don Freeman, former principal in the Bronx, Lisa Donlan, president of CEC 1 in Lower Manhattan, Josh Karen of CEC 6 in Upper Manhattan, and Vern Ballard of Community Board 9 testified; a position paper is posted here. Class Size Matters is a member of the Commission and has endorsed these proposals.

The theme of the Parent Commission’s recommendations is the need for a real partnership and collaboration with parents rather than Mayoral dictatorship. We are proposing that the Chancellor and his policies be subject to both state and city law – and that there needs to be a truly independent and responsive Board of Education to provide necessary checks and balances. The Board should consist of 15 members, including six parent representatives, elected directly by Community Education Council members – who themselves will be elected directly by parents in each district. The Mayor will have three appointees, the City Council and the Public Advocate each one, and together the Board will appoint four more members to build up their expertise in specific policy areas, like the needs of ELL and/or high school students. It is our hope that the process of coming together to appoint more members will act as a consensus building exercise. -- NYC Public School Parents, March 15, 2009

After a long wait, a commission of parents led by outspoken critics of the Department of Education is unveiling its own proposal for how to change mayoral control. In testimony delivered to the Bronx Assembly hearing on mayoral control this morning, parents painted an ideal picture in which parent voices would gain power while the mayor would lose it.

Their proposal is topped off by a radical answer to the question of how to change the Panel for Educational Policy — the effective citywide school board — that would both strengthen the powers of the board and reshape who sits on it. The board would include just three mayoral appointees compared to six parent representatives, plus a City Council appointee, an appointee of the public advocate,and four expert members selected jointly by the board.

The commission is also proposing a stronger role for the CEC elected parent councils in each district. A key complaint about Mayor Bloomberg’s leadership has been that parents are not included in decision-making about the schools. Some have criticized the DOE for not consulting those councils when choosing to open and close schools, as is required by law. ---Gotham Schools, March 13, 2009

Parents and advocates seeking changes, however, believe they will have to directly challenge the mayor's record on education if they are to make any headway with changes to the law.

Lisa Donlan co-founded the Parent Commission on School Governance, which encompasses many of the parents' councils in the city. "This will be seen as a referendum on what he's done on the schools," she said. "There's no way around that." -- Daily News, Nov. 1, 2008

“All the levers are in the hands of two people… and they don’t have to listen to any of us,” historian of education Diane Ravitch said on Wednesday night at the first of five public forums about mayoral control sponsored by the Parents Commission on School Governance.

Ravitch and her fellow panelists, community organizer and retired educator Jitu K. Weusi and New York State Regent and former educator Betty Rosa, provided an overview of the history of school governance to a crowd of more than 200 parents, education activists, teachers, and others interested in the future organization of the city school system. The current school governance law, establishing mayoral control of the schools, sunsets in June 2009; the state assembly will begin holding public hearings on the issue in January.  -- Gotham Schools,  Sept. 19, 2009