Beth Fertig is WNYC’s Contributing Editor for Education. She previously covered politics, which included City Hall during the Giuliani administration, and the U.S. Senate campaigns of Charles Schumer and Hillary Clinton. She also covered transportation and infrastructure.
Mayoral Control Down to the Wire
Monday, June 29, 2009
It's getting down to the wire.
Senate Democrats say they'll put off any more meetings with Republicans about who's in charge of the chamber until Wednesday. In the meantime, they plan to vote on $7 billion of "non-controversial items" including tax increases requested by New York City. But mayoral control of the schools is NOT on that list.
Brooklyn Senator John Sampson, who's now leading the Democratic conference, explained it this way:
"In our conference, mayoral control is a controversial issue and we would like some input. As the mayor said, he does not want the bill to change, period. But the mayor has to understand that we have a conference of 31-members strong. We represent constituents throughout the state of New York. And we want to make sure that we have some say."
Sampson was referring to a bill the Assembly passed that would continue mayoral control of the schools pretty much as is. He's on record saying he wants to make some changes to provide more input from parents; namely, Sampson would like fixed two-year limits for members of the Panel for Educational Policy so they can't be fired if they disagree with the mayor. But Mayor Bloomberg has said it's too late for the Senate to craft a new bill, which is why he's urging lawmakers to pass the Assembly version.
Republican Senator Dean Skelos accused Sampson of trying to "kill" mayoral control. And the lobbying group Learn NY, which wants to preserve mayoral control, has taken out Web ads urging parents to call Sampson's office and not let the law expire.
When Sampson was asked today if he was prepared to let the law expire, since he apparently considers it too controversial to be voted upon before the June 30 deadline, he said, "It will be taken up at some point in time." A reporter asked if that would happen before the deadline, and Sampson repeated, "We are dealing with non-controversial bills."