By June 30, state legislators will decide whether or not to continue mayoral control of city public schools. It is scary to think the fate of more than a million public schoolchildren is in the hands of elected state officials — many of whom know little about the city schools in and care even less.
The existing legislation abolished the city Board of Education and gave Mayor Michael Bloomberg control. Although the teachers union and other politicians say the change has been a disaster, they have little to back up their complaint. Since the mayor took over in 2002, schools have improved in nearly every way. Violent incidents are down and test scores and the number of children graduating on time are up.
Mayoral control champions say this is because the schools answer to the mayor, and representing him city Schools Chancellor Joel Klein. City Hall says in the past the BOE was political and riddled with corruption.
Not all public school success can be attributed to mayoral control. Some factors contribute to the improved numbers, but credit has to go to Bloomberg, who brought a business approach to running the schools by emphasizing performance.
News has been good at Queens public schools, where 79 percent of students reached a level 3, which the state considers meeting standards, or 4, which indicates exceeding standards, on exams. This is up 8 percentage points from the 71 percent in 2008.
In District 25, which includes Flushing and Whitestone schools, there was an 8 percent jump from 76 percent to 84 percent this year. District 26, which includes Bayside, Little Neck, Flushing, Floral Park and Douglaston, had the greatest number of students at 93 percent reaching levels 3 and 4.
We are concerned about what will happen under a different mayor who might be more affected by political pressures.
We hope Albany will keep but tweak the current system to give parents, teachers and communities more say in the running of schools. At the same time, we hope Albany green−lights the development of more charter schools. These schools have mostly been a success and brought competition to traditional public schools.
There is no going back to the not−so−good old days.
©2009 Community News Group
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