[ProgressiveEd] Report on Friday's NYS Senate Majority Task Force 4/4 Public Forum

[email protected] [email protected]
Mon, 07 Apr 2003 14:42:55 +0000

Dear Education Advocate--
(Sorry about the first attempts to get this through.)  
The following will amplify Saturday's article in the NYT on the Public Forum of 
the New York State Senate Majority Task Force on NYC School Governance.  (The 
following is based on my perceptions only.)
The Task Force members included Senators Padavan, Golden, Viella, 
Marchi, and Maltese.  
Witnesses included:  
1.  Chancellor Klein
2.  Senators Lachman and Kruger
3.  Jill Levy, President, CSA
4.  Robin Brown, Chair, Chancellor's Parent Advisory Council and member of State
       Task Force on Community District School Governance Reform
5.  David Weprin and Eva Moskowitz, NYC Council
6.  Terri Thomson, Co-Chair, State Task Force on  . . . Governance Reform
7.  Debra Eng, Sisan Piller, Elaine Davidow, and Cecilia Blewer, parent 
8.  Melvyn Meer, Community Board 11 Education Committee
9.  Carolyn Prager, Advocates for Public Representation in Public Education
10.  Ellen Raider, People's Coalition to Take Back Our Schools
11.  and others.
1.  Chancellor Klein's responses were widely reported in the press, especially 
the NYT. 
2.a.  Senator Lachman spoke eloquently on the need for balance between 
centralization and decentralization in governance, placed in its historic 
2.b.  Senator Kruger spoke forcefully about the context of his law suit to 
prohibit the disbanding of school districts.  He also indicated that the New 
York City Council will vote this week on a resolution to retain the 
2.c.  Jill Levy spoke effectively about local administrators increasing 
perception of central staff disarray and disorganization.  (Everyone is in 
charge so no one is in charge.)  She and others reiterated concern about the 
unnecessary new and costly bureaucratic layers being added at the central, 
regional, and local levels (including expensive "coaches" in each school whose 
task will replicate the responsibilities that belong already to assistant 
3.  David Weprin (NYC Council Finance Committee Chair) zeroed in on "voodoo 
accounting" (my term) claims of extraordinary cost savings in closing down 
districts. Many commentators expressed dismay about how scarce funding seems to
be going to pay inflated salaries to new administrators or new school support 
people who may not be needed.   
4.  Parent activists spoke to the need to preserve school district offices and 
personnel who can respond quickly to local concerns. 
No one endorsed the current direction.
Almost everyone requested preservation of a real district structure.  
Most requested legislation that would provide checks and balances in governance 
defining a less absolute form of Mayoral control.  
The Legislature will have to move very quickly if it is to pass legislation 
that effectively restores districts and provides checks and balances to define 
Mayoral control.  The Mayor and Chancellor are moving aggressively to dismantle 
districts and offices before June 30.    
Now is the time to be heard.  Please support the work of groups like APRPE and 
others that are trying to get the messages to legislators about the need for 
preserving the district structure and governance with checks and balances.  
Thanks for your support.   
Carolyn Prager
Advocates for Public
Representation in Public Education