New York union lays out plans for undoing Bloomberg’s education reforms
Originally posted on PUMABydesign001's Blog:
Received the following email and thought I would share.
While closing bad schools and creating new ones might seem more of a public relations gimmick than a serious policy accomplishment, Bloomberg’s actions have resulted in a multitude of ineffective teachers being removed from the classroom, if not the city’s payroll.
”Teachers at closed schools cannot be fired, but they are often not hired by the new schools, and can wind up as substitute teachers for years before finding permanent positions,” reports The New York Times.
It’s a backdoor approach to rescuing kids from the ill-effects an incompetent or ineffective teacher can have on their development. Solving the problem completely will require serious tenure reform, which New York City still lacks.
The other number, 214, represents the recently raised cap on the number of charter schools that are allowed to open within the city. Bloomberg was instrumental in getting state lawmakers to more than double the city’s charter school limit in 2010.
The city currently has 136 charter schools that educate 47,000 students, with tens of thousands more languishing on waiting lists. That’s no small accomplishment, given the United Federation of Teachers’ – the local teachers union – opposition to the alternative public schools.
Bloomberg’s approach to education reform has been a thumb in the UFT’s eye, which explains why the union and its foot soldiers in the state Assembly are plotting to undo many of the mayor’s reforms, possibly even before he leaves office in December, 2013.
The union plan includes recently introduced legislation that would end mayoral control of schools in New York City, and make it difficult for more charter schools to find usable space in the city.
Ending charters, mayoral control top UFT’s wish list
Bloomberg has been able to effect significant education reforms, largely because state lawmakers placed the city’s school system under mayoral control shortly after he took office in 2002.
The increased powers allow the mayor to appoint eight individuals to serve on the city’s 13-member school board, and to choose the school chancellor, who oversees day-to-day operations of the city’s schools. Essentially, the mayor has been allowed to set educational policy. State lawmakers saw this as an antidote to the gridlock that had gripped the city’s schools and stymied needed reforms.
While mayoral control isn’t up for renewal until June, 2015, the New York Post reports that Democratic Assemblyman Keith Wright and Democratic State Sen. Velmanette Montgomery have proposed bills that would end mayoral control of New York City schools.
Wright and Montgomery both propose to significantly reduce the mayor’s ability to make school board appointments, and to have the board select the school chancellor, the Post reports.
Such changes would greatly expand the UFT’s influence over the school board.
”While we understand that the teachers union would like mayoral control repealed so it can run the school system again, we are confident that the Legislature won’t return the city to those bad old days of dysfunction and corruption,” mayoral spokesman Mark Botnick said recently.
Assemblyman Wright has also introduced legislation that would serve as a backdoor approach to kicking charter schools out of the city.
Under Bloomberg’s direction, charter schools are currently allowed share building space with traditional schools throughout the city. But Assemblyman Wright wants to subject these space-sharing arrangements to the approval of Community Education Councils, parent-run groups that help craft school policy.
If Wright gets his way, these groups could essentially expel charter schools from underutilized public school buildings.
James Merriman, CEO of the New York City Charter School Center, says the change “would be devastating” for charter schools.
” … (C)harter schools don’t receive public dollars to build or rent facilities, and (since) city real estate is expensive, the loss of public space can be fatal to charters,” Merriman writes in a recent op-ed.
Reformers can take some comfort in the fact these union-backed policies are unlikely to pass muster in Albany. However, the UFT is already working on a backup plan.
UFT President Michael Mulgrew has positioned himself as a major power player in determining who will replace Bloomberg as mayor.
The New York Times recently reported that Mulgrew is receiving “night and day cell phone calls from the men and women who are hoping to be the next mayor.” One candidate went so far as to invite Mulgrew to Finland, “to study its vaunted education system,” the Times reports.
”Mulgrew’s agenda is no secret,” the Times writes. “(H)e seeks an end to closing schools for poor performance, an end to placing charter schools in district school buildings and an end to tight mayoral control of the school system.”
In other words, if UFT-friendly legislators cannot undo Bloomberg’s reforms in Albany, Mulgrew and his 200,000-member union will do everything in their power to elect a new mayor who shares their opposition to meaningful education reform.