The Pendulum Swings
Dr. Pola Rosen, Publisher
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
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
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