Editorial: The Pendulum Swings

By Dr. Pola Rosen, Publisher

New state law has just transferred power from the community school boards to Chancellor Rudy Crew, to appoint or fire New York City's 32 community superintendents. Echoes of the past reverberate.

I remember power transfers in the 60's in New York City. The central Board of Education at 110 Livingston Street was considered to lack the sensitivity and knowledge of local school issues. Majority opinion held that local community school boards and parents should have a greater voice in what happened in their own schools. The pendulum swung. Community school superintendents and principals were appointed by local school boards. In the ensuing years, patronage, nepotism and corruption eroded what seemed like a logical idea. While several school districts were managing well, tales of misappropriation of funds and the purchase of principal's positions began to appear in the media. Even worse, the Chancellor and the courts seemed powerless to remedy the situation. Surreptitious acts turned into outrageous defiance as some school boards, principals and superintendents sneered at the establishment and at parents. The worst part was that education programs and children were receiving minimal attention; standards were going down.It was time for the pendulum to swing again.

Part of education is, by nature, experimental. We try various approaches, some supported by research, others backed by intuition and experience. We can't always predict what will work. The important thing is to adjust our plans according to the feedback from results. If you receive a low grade in chemistry, maybe you haven't studied the right material, maybe the techniques you used were inappropriate, maybe the teacher wasn't able to impart the information effectively. The important thing is not the low grade but the adjustment of your performance to the next test. The important point is that the pendulum must swing.

The success of the current transfer of power depends on the integrity of the Chancellor, the accuracy of the information he receives from the field, and his own inherent talent to govern. Chancellor Crew has proved his impartiality, his ability, and his courage on several occasions in attempting to remove corrupt boards, principals and superintendents, with the sole purpose of improving education in the local community. Politicians, educators, parents and children owe him their support in making the pendulum swing as smoothly as possible.