School & District Management

State Senate Extends Mayor’s Control Over N.Y.C. Schools

By Lesli A. Maxwell — August 07, 2009 3 min read
  • Save to favorites
  • Print

After nearly two months of political wrangling, state senators in New York gave final approval last week to a measure that will keep Mayor Michael R. Bloomberg in charge of New York City’s 1.1 million-student school system.

Mr. Bloomberg, whose seven-year authority over the district expired in June when an unrelated political dispute in the state Senate kept legislators from acting on a series of bills, struck a deal late last month with Democrats in the chamber to extend mayoral control for an additional six years.

In doing so, the mayor, an Independent, agreed to support four “chapter amendments” that the Democratic leadership demanded. The amendments, which were presented as separate bills, included one to boost parental involvement in the city’s public schools and another that would set up an advisory council to issue annual reports on the state of arts education.

“With the governance question resolved, we can now move full steam ahead with efforts to ensure that this school year is marked by more great progress,” Mr. Bloomberg said in a statement issued after the Aug. 6 vote in the Senate.

The mayor said extension of his authority “preserved a system of clear accountability for our schools that has produced clear and dramatic results for our students.”

The final vote in favor of continuing mayoral control was 47-8.

New Oversight Committee

Just before approving the mayor’s continued authority over the city’s schools, the Senate also passed a resolution to create a new oversight committee with subpoena powers—a move meant to mollify some Democrats who have been critical of Mr. Bloomberg’s near-unilateral control.

With the governance question resolved, we can now move full steam ahead with efforts to ensure that this school year is marked by more great progress."

The legislature’s other house, the state Assembly, which had already approved an extension of mayoral control before the law expired on June 30, will now have to reconvene to consider the Senate’s additional bills related to the deal.

It was not yet clear last week when that might happen, or whether the Assembly would approve the additional provisions.

What is clear is that the mayor will keep his power to appoint the majority of members to the oversight board known as the Panel for Educational Policy, and that those members will not serve fixed terms, a change that some opponents of mayoral control had sought.

Mr. Bloomberg and Schools Chancellor Joel I. Klein, a mayoral appointee, will be subject to some new checks on what had been their broad authority to approve contracts and shut down schools.

Mayor Bloomberg first won control over the schools in 2002, but the state law enabling that governance structure was scheduled to sunset at the end of June. The New York Senate—mired for weeks in a partisan fight over which political party was in charge of the chamber—failed to act on renewing the measure before the deadline. Senate Democrats eventually prevailed in that internal dispute, clearing the way for the chamber to vote on mayoral control. (“N.Y.C. Mayor Keeping Firm Hold on Schools,” July 15, 2009.)

But some Democratic leaders in the Senate bristled at the Assembly’s version of extending mayoral control—the version endorsed by Mr. Bloomberg—and set off weeks of sparring with the mayor.

When the two sides finally reached a compromise in late July, Mr. Bloomberg agreed to the creation of a $1.6 million training center for parents and students that will be operated by the City University of New York. The center will train parents in how to advocate better educational outcomes for their children.

One of the chief criticisms of Mayor Bloomberg’s governance of the school system has been that parents are often shut out of major policy decisions.

Arts Education

The agreement approved by the Senate also calls for forming an advisory committee to make recommendations on arts education—an area of the curriculum that critics argue has suffered under the leadership of Mr. Bloomberg and Mr. Klein.

The city’s education department must also hold annual school safety meetings under the compromise.

Mayor Bloomberg, who is running for a third term this November after succeeding in getting the city’s term-limits law changed, had not expected the extension of his authority over the public schools to run into such a political buzz saw, despite persistent criticism from some parent groups and education scholars.

Related Tags:

The Associated Press contributed to this story.
A version of this article appeared in the August 12, 2009 edition of Education Week as State Senate Extends Mayor’s Control Over N.Y.C. Schools

Events

This content is provided by our sponsor. It is not written by and does not necessarily reflect the views of Education Week's editorial staff.
Sponsor
Budget & Finance Webinar
Innovative Funding Models: A Deep Dive into Public-Private Partnerships
Discover how innovative funding models drive educational projects forward. Join us for insights into effective PPP implementation.
Content provided by Follett Learning
Budget & Finance Webinar Staffing Schools After ESSER: What School and District Leaders Need to Know
Join our newsroom for insights on investing in critical student support positions as pandemic funds expire.
This content is provided by our sponsor. It is not written by and does not necessarily reflect the views of Education Week's editorial staff.
Sponsor
Student Achievement Webinar
How can districts build sustainable tutoring models before the money runs out?
District leaders, low on funds, must decide: broad support for all or deep interventions for few? Let's discuss maximizing tutoring resources.
Content provided by Varsity Tutors for Schools

EdWeek Top School Jobs

Teacher Jobs
Search over ten thousand teaching jobs nationwide — elementary, middle, high school and more.
View Jobs
Principal Jobs
Find hundreds of jobs for principals, assistant principals, and other school leadership roles.
View Jobs
Administrator Jobs
Over a thousand district-level jobs: superintendents, directors, more.
View Jobs
Support Staff Jobs
Search thousands of jobs, from paraprofessionals to counselors and more.
View Jobs

Read Next

School & District Management Principals Have a Lead Role in the ‘Science of Reading.’ Are They Ready?
The push to shifting schools to the science of reading has often neglected the vital role of the principal.
9 min read
School & District Management Quiz What Do You Know About the Most Influential People in School Districts? Take Our Quiz
Answer 7 questions about the superintendent profession.
1 min read
Image of icons for gender, pay, demographics.
Canva
School & District Management Opinion I Invited My Students to Be the Principal for a Day. Here’s What I Learned
When I felt myself slipping into a springtime slump, this simple activity reminded me of my “why” as an educator.
S. Kambar Khoshaba
4 min read
052024 OPINION Khoshaba PRINCIPAL end the year with positivity
E+/Getty + Vanessa Solis/Education Week via Canva
School & District Management The Complicated Fight Over Four-Day School Weeks
Missouri lawmakers want to encourage large districts to maintain five-day weeks—even as four-day weeks grow more popular.
7 min read
Calendar 4 day week
iStock/Getty