Today’s news:

Padavan should not have voted against mayoral school control

I have seen state Sen. Frank Padavan (R-Bellerose) come to meeting after meeting over the years and rail against Mayor Michael Bloomberg’s operation of the city school system with mayoral control. He is the sponsor, however, in the Senate of the mayoral control extension bill that passed the state Assembly with the mayor’s blessing. I was hoping he would support our community, not the mayor.

I am disappointed in Padavan’s representation of our community on this issue. This community has told him mayoral control does not serve us well. It did so through the District 26 Community District Education Council, Community Board 11 and in other ways. The Assembly bill leaves the mayor as dictator. He remains able to appoint and fire members of the city Department of Education at will.

A principal-parent grievance is we no longer have effective district superintendents. In fact, for the most part they are assigned by city Schools Chancellor Joel Klein to be outside the district most of the time. Their authority over principals has been removed. All this has been contrary to statute.

There is nothing in the Assembly bill that requires the mayor to restore statutory authority to the district superintendents. The statute is ignored by the mayor. There is no reason to think anything will change, so parents remain without a voice in their children’s education.

The bill says superintendents should have “sufficient staff,” but who will determine what staff is sufficienti Klein, of course, and he thinks the current staff is sufficient. At best, the bill would make district superintendents complaint-takers with no more authority to resolve complaints than they have now: none. As a parent, I am unimpressed with this change, which is not even a change.

The bill says the superintendents must perform tasks “predominantly” within their district, but several dictionaries I examined define “predominantly,” in this case, to mean superintendents spending more time in their own district than in any other single district. That is like what we have now and it is failing us. No doubt it is Klein who will also define “predominantly.”

In so many public places, Padavan has taken serious issue with the one-man rule of the mayor. Many of us are left with the unhappy but distinct impression the senator must not have been playing it straight with us for the last many years. He felt our pain, but in the final analysis he votes with the mayor.

The reason I am disappointed is because I know Padavan knows better and we had every right to expect better.

Melvyn Meer

Member

Community Board 11

Bayside

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