Am Too. Am Not.
July 20th, 2009
There’s been no shortage of overblown rhetoric in the past few days as Mayor Michael Bloomberg and Senate Democrats trade insults in the latest round in the fight over how New York City Schools should be run. As they trade insults — meshuganah, yenta — and liken the other side to Nazis (from the mayor), slave owners (from the senators) and Bernard Madoff (the mayor’s spokesperson), the sides, with all due apologies to New York City students, seemed more interested in becoming school kids than in educating school kids.
And it shows no signs of abating. Just hours ago, Mayor Michael Bloomberg, when pressed about whether he really, really meant to compare state senators to Nazis, answered, “I certainly did. What part of that did they not understand?”
Beneath all the overblown rhetoric lurk fairly modest differences.
The effort to fundamentally alter mayoral control has largely failed. The bill approved in the Assembly leaves it almost completely intact Something called the Better Schools Act, sponsored by Senate critics of the mayor, that would have fundamentally changed mayoral control — giving expanded powers to a board of education, for example — was defeated by a wide margin last week.
So, as WNYC’s Beth Fertig has reported, the dispute came down three issues: establishment of a council to monitor police in schools, another group to promote arts education and a new parent training institute to help parents and their children navigate the school system. Bloomberg, again according to Fertig, didn’t think these changes were necessary. Sources told her he eventually said he would accept the parent training institute but didnít think that needed to be put in writing.
It seems hard to believe these amendments are the real roadblocks to an agreement. Instead we have a mayor who has bridled at any measure that gives anyone else any say in running of the schools. And on the other side, we have a fractured Senate in which the purported Democratic leaders can’t do anything that would alienate any of the party’s 32 senators — including 15 who voted to massively change the school governance system last week. On top of that, we have two sides that seem to enjoy trying to provoke the other. Maybe an experienced playground monitor could help.By Gail Robinson on July 20, 2009, 4:08 pm
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