Mayor Michael Bloomberg lost control over the city’s public schools at midnight. Now, the mad scramble is on to figure out exactly who will be in charge of the nation’s largest school system. The pre-mayoral control board of education is apparently in the process of reconstitution and is set for an emergency meeting today at noon. Mayor Bloomberg has authority to appoint two members of the seven-member panel, and two of the city’s borough presidents will reportedly select members who are supportive of mayoral control.
So, despite all the chaos and confusion, it’s still possible that the mayor’s education policies will stay intact and Chancellor Joel Klein will remain in charge, though there will no doubt be lots of grandstanding from all sides of the issue. Until political upheaval in the New York Senate erupted last month, Bloomberg’s seven-year grip on the schools, though widely debated and criticized, seemed headed for extension by state lawmakers.
As usual, GothamSchools has the best up-to-the-minute developments in this wild story.
UPDATE:(12:34 p.m.) Folks at the U.S. Department of Education told Michele that Klein called Education Secretary Arne Duncan yesterday to ask him to publicly weigh in on the issue. Duncan, if you’ll remember, is a big fan of mayoral control. But it was unclear how Duncan would be able to effectively weigh in as the clock ticked toward the deadline, and before that could be figured out, mayoral control in the city expired. Nonetheless, Duncan still supports mayoral control and thinks cities should at least consider it when trying to turn around failing schools. Although Duncan has a habit of singling out states for making, in his opinion, bad policy choices, chief spokesman Peter Cunningham told Michele that this won’t count against New York in the Race to the Top grants.
UPDATE (1:30 p.m.) New York City’s new Board of Education, in a meeting GothamSchools’ Philissa Cramer says lasted just nine minutes, voted to affirm the status quo of the last seven years.
The seven-member panel voted unanimously to keep Joel I. Klein as schools chancellor and voted 6-0 to endorse mayoral control in the form of the bill passed by the New York State Assembly, which made relatively few changes to the original 2002 law. (Dolores Fernandez, a Klein critic, abstained.)
The new board, which selected Dennis Walcott, the city’s deputy mayor for education, as board president, voted to adjourn until Sept. 10.
-- guest blogger Dakarai I. Aarons