Mayoral control has done away with a needless city bureaucracy

The Brooklyn Paper

If the public were to take the time to understand underlying issues when they choose a stance to either support or rail against the mayor on the issue of mayoral control of city public schools, would their opposition be so fierce? If you have never worked in the school system, how can you understand what happens in the schools and what mayoral control has achieved?

Subsequent to 40 years of operation under its own device and agency as the city Board of Education, the city Department of Education saw important reforms under Mayor Michael Bloomberg’s administration. Mayoral control is the mayor’s right to oversee and maintain an authoritative presence over city agencies.

Former Mayor John Lindsay rescinded mayoral control against newly emerging legislation for “decentralization.” Conceived as a remedy for remote and insensitive bureaucracy, decentralization quickly took on a racial and political tone. It became a movement resulting in the ousting of 19 white and Jewish educators in Brownsville, Brooklyn, for no reason other than racial politics.

Far from providing an appropriate resolution, rescinding mayoral control enabled an addictive and politically corrupt hierarchy to emerge. It developed politics and leadership tactics of a patronage hiring system that enabled politically driven individuals to advance their own careers within the hierarchy of power.

These actions result in comprising their own best interests and the individuals they attempt to serve. According to city Schools Chancellor Joel Klein, the late United Federation of Teachers President Albert Shanker viewed school board politics as “the politics of paralysis.” In 1979, former Mayor Ed Koch appointed a blue ribbon commission to study corruption school districts and find ways to improve decentralization.

Prior to Bloomberg’s changes to the system, people were stuck with what was termed the “status quo,” feeling powerless and beholden to a bureaucracy they could do nothing about.

Bloomberg’s gains have been:

• an increase in smaller charter schools that provide greater leverage and stronger boundaries for teachers with a chance to build a greater sense of morale and professionalism

• increases in salaries

• needed improvements in renovation and construction of school buildings

We are beginning to understand the results of putting a huge bureaucracy and extensive school boards between the teachers and student body.

We are beginning to understand the ways in which normative issues and needs for change were made more problematic and stigmatized rather than addressed and dealt with effectively in their appropriate environments.

Bloomberg was able to exercise a previously relinquished authority and eliminate fraud and abuse that place additional burden on milking the budget and taxpayer dollars.

We have eliminated the BOE, its administrative offices and thousands of administrative positions that existed only to rubber-stamp and create duplicating paperwork trails within an antiquated, bureaucratic system screaming for change.

Isn’t this the kind of direction we need in a great leader?

Jamie Avery

Forest Hills

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