May 17, 2009

"Shut down the mayor, not public schools!"

UPDATE: See the end of this post for an important link.

That was what they chanted at the May 14th rally against School Closings. And they're dead right. No one should be closing schools without fixing them.

I see it as a kind of gerrymandering.

If in politics you manipulate the boundaries of an electoral constituency to get a desired electoral outcome, the mayor and his ed machine at Tweed have built an entire apparatus for shifting tax dollars to private entities.

They've manipulated scores and designed a non-transparent, highly suspect school grading system.

They skipped the next step, which would have been to change what's not working in particular schools. Instead, they just c
losed them down.

Or broke them up.

They've rabbit-punched the contract, defied laws and mandates that got in their way (e.g, special ed violations, no-bid contracts, state graduation requirements), marginalized the parents and kept them guessing. All in a day's work.

In other words, make failure, declare failure, then throw money at charters, foundations and big business to create a new set of schools with new rules, not all of which are in the public interest.

This mayor is not for New Yorkers. He's from and for a class of people who want to keep another class of people out of power, and that's gerrymandering.

The NYCLU put out a report on May 14th called "Civil Rights, Transparency, Accountability Suffer Under Current Mayoral Control Scheme." Here's what Exec. Director Donna Lieberman said in an email NYCLU members received just today:
The current regime of absolute, unfettered mayoral control is incompatible with a safe, effective educational environment. For our schools and our children to be as successful as they can be, parents must be a part of the educational process and the core democratic principles of transparency, accountability and public participation in government must be respected. The Legislature must close the loopholes that have given Mayor Bloomberg and the Department of Education unfettered discretion over education policy.
The report documents the NYCLU's
. . . tremendous difficulty in obtaining basic data and records on these issues from the DOE and NYPD through the Freedom of Information Law. The NYCLU’s experiences are not unique. The DOE routinely withholds from parents, the media and elected officials raw data on student performance, student safety and the education budget. . . .

Under the current mayoral control system, Mayor Bloomberg and the DOE flout state and local statutes intended to assure public oversight of agencies with rulemaking power. For example, new Chancellor’s Regulations – rules that affect the lives and education of New York City’s children – are never subject to the 30-day public notice and comment period required by the City Administrative Procedures Act.

Among the eight changes they're calling for are these: (a) delineate the position of the DOE within the existing structure of city government, (b) increase public oversight, (c) strengthen the parental voice in policymaking, (d) allow for public engagement in the decision-making process, (e) mandate data transparency, and (f) create an Inspector General to protect integrity, conduct independent audits and investigations, etc. These are for starters, to restore the public trust.

Back to that rally . . .

You can read about it on Ednotes (thanks to Norm Scott), watch it on YouTube, join GEM (Grassroots Education Movement) like so many groups have done, and do some homework on the corporate takeover of public education and the people from Obama on down who are guilty of orchestrating the educorp coup.

And most importantly, you can be there for the next round.

. . . Absolute power corrupts absolutely. Our federal and state governments have checks and balances so no one person has total control, which is a synonym for dictatorship. . . . Under this mayor, charter schools get the best of everything, including small classes and new technology.

. . . We need a chancellor who works for the kids, not the mayor. The chancellor needs to fight for what's best for kids whether or not the mayor agrees. He can't do that if the mayor can fire him for not following his orders.

This mayor boasts about accountability. Teachers are accountable. Principals are accountable, but the only time the mayor is accountable is once every four years. That's not enough, particularly for a man who is prepared to spend $100 million to buy reelection and who scoffed at the voters by changing the term limits law they twice affirmed.

Four more years of this system guarantees the privatization and destruction of public education in New York City. That's a prospect we should all oppose.

[Arthur Goldstein, teacher]

1 comment:

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