Streams

Tempers Flare at Hearing on Mayoral Control of Schools

Friday, March 13, 2009

Sparks flew in the Bronx today at the State Assembly Education Committee's hearing on mayoral control of the public schools.

Shana Marks-Odinga and Zakiyah Ansari of Campaign for Better Schools at the Assembly Education Committee hearing today in the Bronx. They want more checks and balances on mayoral control when the law comes up for renewal in June.

Shana Marks-Odinga and Zakiyah Ansari of Campaign for Better Schools at the Assembly Education Committee hearing today in the Bronx. They want more checks and balances on mayoral control when the law comes up for renewal in June.

With the law granting Mayor Bloomberg full control over the school system of more than a million students set to expire in June, assembly members peppered Department of Education officials with questions - specifically about programs for English Language Learners. It was an especially relevant issue as the Bronx is now more than 50 percent Hispanic, according to census figures.

Karin Weekes (r) and Jeanette Iglesias (next to her) and Milton Bustamante at the State Assembly Education hearing at Lehman College in the Bronx. They all have children who attend the Family Life Academy charter school and they believe having the mayor in charge has improved the schools.

Milton Bustamante, Jeanette Iglesias, and Karin Weekes at the State Assembly Education hearing at Lehman College in the Bronx. They all have children who attend the Family Life Academy charter school and they believe having the mayor in charge has improved the schools.

Maria Santos, the Education Department's executive director of English Language Learners, testified that there are now more programs for these students. She said the number of English Language Learners performing at the lowest levels has decreased in the Bloomberg years and that the city has created more dual language programs - though she conceded the graduation statistics were less clear. But Assemblywoman Carmen Arroyo called her a 'liar' (in Spanish and English) and proposed a collaboration with a University in Puerto Rico to prepare more teachers for working with English Language Learners. And parents and community members in the auditorium at Lehman college erupted with boos as Santos testified.

Jane Hirschmann of Time Out from Testing opposes mayoral control in its current form, and wants the mayor to have a "partnership with parents" with no veto power. Her three children attended the public schools.

Jane Hirschmann of Time Out from Testing opposes mayoral control in its current form, and wants the mayor to have a partnership with parents with no veto power. Her three children attended the public schools.


Assemblyman Daniel O'Donnell also asked why a school on the Upper West Side was being replaced by a charter school that has no experience with teaching English Language Learners. Deputy Chancellor Christopher Cerf said he would have to look into the matter, but said charter schools overall are serving many English Language Learners and have academic achievements that surpass those of schools with comparable populations. Cerf's comments were cheered by the dozens of charter school parents in the room, who support mayoral control. But opponents of mayoral control gave the panel Bronx cheers. Assemblyman Mark Weprin muttered a word of advice to the the Dept of Ed representatives: 'Like A-Rod you gotta ignore the crowd.'

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Comments [4]

Jemina Bernard, Executive Director for Teach for A

Growing up, I experienced first-hand the injustices our children continue to face simply because of the color of their skin and the zip code that they’re born into. I’m truly grateful that for four years, I had the opportunity to work with and for a chancellor and mayor who get it – who get the urgency of ridding our city and our country of the achievement gap and prevailing ideology that all too often relegates our African-American and Latino children, our poor children, to a less than equal shot at going to college, much less at getting a decent job and earning a fair income.

Mar. 20 2009 07:44 AM
karen green

none of us want or are looking for a corrupt doe system but we want a system that decides in favor of a majority of us in our city, state and national schools.

do we want teachers and students being paid for doing well in schools?

where should curriculum come from?

is it important to have two teachers in a classroom or smaller classes?

will a different mayor and chancellor have more transparency?

does data driven curricula help a child to learn?

should skills be driven by only technological advancement. other skills may rate just as high.

Mar. 16 2009 10:14 AM
joyce Saly

Assemblyman Weprin's constituents should remember that he ignores their opinion before they think about re-electing him. Say no to ignoring NY voters. Say no with your vote.

Mar. 15 2009 12:00 PM
A. S. E.

Isn't an elected official and assemblyman supposed to listen to the voters, and hence, be a representative of his constituents? How can Assemblyman Weprin represent their views if as he says, "...you gotta ignore the crowd? "

Mar. 14 2009 01:07 AM

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