I wrote him this morning out of disgust, particularly after taking a look at his website and learning he no longer needed the services of the clearest thinking man on Klein's PEP, Patrick Sullivan.
In my letter, I basically asked him what about mayoral control so pleased him these past 7 years.
As far as I could tell, it's been:
• chaotic (three reorganizations of the heirarchy in 7 years, busing fiasco,etc.),The borough president is not elected to do a mayor's bidding, which is what checks and balances are all about, and since we haven't had any checks and balances for the past seven years on mayoral dictates, Manhattan expects Stringer to start showing some muscle.
• faked (manipulated test scores, an inscrutable school grading system, etc.).
• non-transparent (no-bid contracts, hidden liaisons with corporations, etc.),
• dictatorial (shutting parents and educators out of decision-making, the firings at the PEP meeting a couple of years ago over the tests, etc.), and at times
• irregular or unlawful (appointed an uncertified and non-educator chancellor who needed a waiver, broke up the districts into regions without court approval, etc.).
A full-out rejection of this mayor's irregularities, arrogance and downright incompetence running our schools would be a good start. Insisting that long-term educators get to make the important decisions should be another priority. At least they know in their bones that parent input counts.
What Stringer thinks about education can be read on his website. In light of his decision to continue backing mayoral control (a position he's taken all along, according to Lisa Donlon), I am concerned that he's become deaf to his own words:
However, there is widespread discontent with the councils and, in 2006, the Borough President released a report [Parents Dismissed] showing that the CECs have not received the support and training the DOE is supposed to provide in order to allow them to be effective.He's also taken away our best shot for keeping the DoE clean. Failing to re-instate a real advocate for public education on the newly constituted board, we now get his general counsel (Jimmy Yan). What did tossing Sullivan get him? The public really wants to know.
Here's the part of Stringer's position paper that shows how well Bloomberg's PR machine achieved its primary goal, getting elected officials to believe the fabrications and not bother themselves with with due diligence.
New York City’s public school system has seen some improvement in recent years: in certain grades student achievement on standardized reading and math tests has posted notable gains; a modest gain in the high school graduation rate has been achieved; there is an ambitious capital plan that seeks to address overcrowding and facility deterioration; the number of gifted and talented and bilingual programs has increased; and additional accountability measures have been put in place.In fact, the test score gains and graduation rates have all been debunked, overcrowding is worse than ever (they're still using trailers for classrooms), and there's no sign of a single instrument of accountability or assessment that doesn't leak like a sieve.
Despite this progress . . .
. . . The chancellor has called tackling this achievement gap the major impetus behind new accountability and assessment measures and the most recent re-organization of the system.
If as Stringer says "far too many students lack the most basic skills in reading and math" and "70,000 students each year do not graduate on time," keeping the BloomKlein edifice in place makes no sense. Unless you've sold out for something bigger.
It remains to be seen whether these changes in structure and funding will help close student achievement gaps. Likewise, it remains to be seen if the City’s new pilot program to pay parents and students for improved standardized test scores and good attendance will improve student performance.If Stringer needs more time to see that this mayoral control thing isn't working, then Manhattan will definitely need to cut him loose.