you believe the current governance of the New York City public school
system needs revision?
Herman Badillo (HB): I agree with Mayor Giuliani that we should
abolish the School Board and that the Mayor should be directly
responsible for the schools. We should have a Commissioner appointed
by the Mayor with the consent of the City Council. The Mayor would
replace the School Board, and the Commissioner would replace the
Chancellor. The current structure of the Board goes back to the
decentralization battles of 1969. If the people who drafted the
City Charter had the guts, they would have changed this the way
they changed the other responsibilities of the Borough Presidents.
Bloomberg (MB): The Mayor, with the advice and consent of
the City Council, must have a Commissioner of Education who reports
directly to him. Right now, the Board of Education is accountable
to no one—and acts that way. As Mayor, I would strongly lobby
the state Legislature to abolish the BoE. Until then, I would
use my appointments to the Board, my influence in Washington and
Albany and my access to the news media to bring about lasting
change to public education.
Ferrer (FF): The so-called debate over whether to continue
the Board of Education is just the latest way our would-be leaders
have contrived to avoid a real debate over how to make our educational
system meet and exceed expectations. We should be discussing how
to improve teaching and learning in our schools. The idea that
the Mayor does not have enough control over the school system
is blatantly false: He controls union negotiations, appoints two
members to the BoE, has great influence over the hiring and firing
of Chancellors and effectively controls the budget.
Green (MG): Yes. Like Chicago, NYC should move forward with
reforms that give the mayor more direct control over the BoE.
I’ve proposed that the Mayor appoint the Chancellor during a five
year “emergency” period. At the end of that period, the State
Legislature should review whether 1) the “emergency” has passed
and 2) whether alternatives—that retain the basic concept of Mayoral
control—should be considered. I would propose that there be an
oversight committee, established by statute, to monitor the Mayor’s
performance on the schools. This committee would be appointed
by other high ranking elected officials, such as the Controller,
and could report to the public independently on school performance.
Hevesi (AH): While I believe the makeup of the Board should
be changed, governance doesn’t mean anything unless there is a
public school reform program. Having said that, I believe the
Board should be enlarged to eleven members, six appointed by the
Mayor and one by each Borough President. Each position should
be defined in statute as to credentials. This would provide some
real expertise and a mixture of expert people. The Board should
include a teacher, a parent, an administrator, someone familiar
with school construction, a former budget director, a teacher
of teachers—a university educator. The Board should have two functions,
and only two: to set broad policy within the mandate of the Board
of Regents and to put into place a system of accountability. The
Board should not micromanage the schools. If I get elected, and
the law is changed to eliminate the Board, I could live with it.
I don’t want to minimize the importance of governance, but it
doesn’t mean anything without substance.
Vallone (PV): Our school system is not accountable to the
people who pay taxes to fund it. Therefore, since 1995, I have
supported abolishing the BoE. In its place, I propose creating
a NYC Department of Education that is directly accountable to
City Hall. I believe that if the schools answered directly to
the Mayor, the city would have the ability to reduce the bureaucracy,
to hold every school accountable for its performance and to give
the public school system to the people.
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