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The state law that gives sole control over city schools to the mayor is set to expire next year and Queens parents want it gone permanently.
Those parents, along with some elected officials, voiced their concerns and thoughts about Mayor Bloomberg’s education policy at a special hearing Thursday night at Borough Hall.
The hearing, required by the state Senate’s School Governance Task Force, was part of a series of sessions in the city designed to collect testimony on how mayoral control has worked for the school system.
The task force’s co−chairs, state Sen. Shirley Huntley (D−Jamaica) and Martin Malave Dilan (D−Brooklyn), heard from many parents and the one common complaint was the lack of parental involvement and say in classrooms.
“Many speak about tweaking the system, but I think it is in need of a massive overhaul to make it more responsive to the concerns and needs of ... parents, teachers and students,” said David Qunintana, an Ozone Park resident.
Other parents complained that the system instituted by Bloomberg and city Schools Chancellor Joel Klein micromanaged the children’s priorities with what they called questionable educational methods.
Sylvia Hack, of the Kew Gardens Improvement Association, chastised the city Department of Education for overburdening students and teachers with standardized tests she claimed took away from learning school subjects efficiently.
“The chancellor chooses to run the department as if it were a profit−making corporation,” she said.
In 2002, the state Legislature relinquished control of city schools to the mayor after years of overseeing the city Board of Education and 32 school boards, which had members elected by parents.
There were seven members of the BOE’s board consisting of five appointees from each of the borough presidents and two appointees of the mayor’s. The board selected the school chancellor and drew up education policy for the city.
The new law, which will expire in June 2009, was written to give the mayor more accountability.
State Assemblyman Mark Weprin (D−Little Neck), said he did think the mayor should continue to have control over schools, but major changes would have to be made in the system for it to work.
He suggested the city give more power to the community school districts and school superintendents so there is a fair system of checks and balances.
“The system is much too large to maintain as a large bureaucracy,” he said. “School districts should be the nerve centers of our school systems.”
Reach reporter Ivan Pereira by e−mail at firstname.lastname@example.org or by phone at 718−229−0300, Ext. 146.
©2008 Community Newspaper Group
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