Assembly to World: We Still Function!
June 15th, 2009
The Senate may be paralyzed by a leadership struggle of unprecedented proportions, but the Assembly is still humming away, deliberating and voting on legislation.
This year the Assembly has played attention-starved but well-behaved sibling to the dysfunctional, conflicted, constantly troubled Senate.
Today the Assembly asked for a reassuring pat on the head by announcing that legislation pertaining to mayoral control of schools has been reported out of the Assembly Education Committee. The bill will now have to be approved by two more committees before coming to a vote on the Assembly floor.
The Assembly also issued this release noting their general ability to function:
“In response to ongoing media requests, the Assembly Press Office is providing the following statistics. Today the Assembly convened for 4 hours and 30 min and acted on 78 bills, while holding 10 committee meetings.”
The Assembly’s school governance bill would allow the mayor to appoint most members of the Board of Education, but requires two of the mayor’s appointees to be parents of NYC school children. It also increases the scope of policy and action the Board of Education will have to vote to approve. Parents and the community will also have more chance to voice their opinions. It also calls for a new “citywide procurement policy for the Board of Education.”
The Assembly press release astutely points out that the law allowing mayoral control of schools will expire on June 30 of this year. The Assembly press release is basically saying, “See ma, we’re doing something!”
With the mess in the Senate right now, no one there feels confident enough to venture a guess as to when any issues related to legislation will be addressed. Right now the Senate is saying, in effect, “Mo-o-o-m! Get off our backs! We’re totally beefing right now!”
Here is the release from Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver’s office:
ASSEMBLY INTRODUCES NEW YORK CITY
SCHOOL GOVERNANCE LEGISLATION
Measure allows for more parental input, increases transparency and accountability
Education Committee approves bill, sends to Ways and Means Committee
Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver and Education Committee Chair Catherine Nolan announced that New York City school governance legislation has been approved by the Education Committee and will now be considered in the Ways and Means and Rules Committees before being sent to the floor for the full Assembly vote. The measure will provide parents with a substantially more meaningful structure to be heard and be involved in their children’s education at all levels of the school system and provide the public with greater transparency about America’s largest school district, while preserving the accountability that comes with mayoral control of the schools.
The new bill (A.8903-A) preserves the mayor’s ability to appoint a majority of the members of the Board of Education, but requires at least two of those appointees be parents of public school students. It also expands the scope and type of policies and actions that must be put to a public Board of Education vote, with parents and the public having an opportunity to be heard during the board’s deliberations.
“There is nothing more important than the education of our children,” said Silver (D-Manhattan), who sponsored the original legislation that created mayoral control. “This bill strengthens and improves New York City’s public schools by giving parents a more meaningful role and the ability to provide input at the school, community district, and city-wide level. At the same time, this measure preserves and improves the accountability that comes with mayoral control.”
“During the many hours listening to dozens of parents, teachers and community members at our five-borough public hearings, we heard time and time again about the need for more parental participation,” said Nolan (D-Queens). “This bill addresses this concern and makes the system more accountable to the public by providing for greater transparency of the school district’s data and finances.”
The new school governance measure will boost parental involvement at the school level by strengthening the role of School Leadership Teams in developing the school’s Comprehensive Educational Plan. The bill also strengthens the community superintendents by reinstating them in the community districts, and provides them with expanded powers and the responsibility to address parent concerns, complaints and information requests.
The measure will also require the creation of a new citywide procurement policy for the Board of Education. The Independent Budget Office will have the expanded authority and=2 0resources to issue reports on all schools and student data including graduation rates and performance, class size, pupil-to-teacher ratios, student enrollment projections, school utilization, test scores and all matters related to the school system’s budget and fiscal practices.
The bill will guarantee parents, students, staff and the public six months notice and an opportunity to review and comment on proposed school closings and changes in the use of local school buildings. The provision will require the chancellor to issue an impact statement on any such proposed changes and hearings to allow public input.
Once the bill passes the Assembly, it will be sent to the Senate for consideration. The current New York City school governance law, enacted in 2002, will expire on June 30, 2009.By David King on June 15, 2009, 8:06 pm
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