A School Deal (Update)
July 24th, 2009

Gotham Schools is reporting that Senate Democrats have slowly emerged from a meeting on mayoral control at 250 Broadway and announced that a deal has been reached.

Majority Leader Sen. Pedro Espada Jr. and Democratic Leader John Sampson announced that a deal has been agreed to but “language is not finalized.”

Democrats are expected to return to Albany before the new school year starts to approve the Assembly’s school bill and chapter amendments that would create a parental training center at CUNY and an arts education panel, among other things.

Negotiations between Senate leadership and the Bloomberg administration continued this week all while the four amigos traded barbs with Mayor Michael Bloomberg. Gotham Schools reported that Sen. Ruben Diaz Sr. and Hiram Monserrate walked out of the talks early. Diaz told reporters that the “four amigos” are “divided” on the deal.

Gail Robinson, who was staked out at 250 Broadway earlier, reports that the sticking points on the negotiation were, according to Sen. Tom Duane, “how to increase parental involvement in the city schools, with many senators also concerned about how to insure transparency at the Department of Education.”

Duane said that reaching the agreement was “a lot like trying to put a big jellyfish in a box.”

Here is the press release from the Senate Majority:



(New York, NY) – The New York State Senate Majority Conference has reached an agreement with Mayor Michael R. Bloomberg on New York City school governance. The Senate is expected to vote on and pass S.5887 with a chapter amendment designed to increase parental input, promote enhanced arts education, address concerns relating to school safety procedures and strengthen the oversight role of the community superintendents.

Senators Shirley L. Huntley and Martin Malave Dilan were instrumental in negotiating the terms of the chapter amendment, and provided critical leadership to resolve concerns of Members in the Majority Conference.

The draft chapter amendment to S.5887 includes four basic provisions:

1) Creation of a Parent Training Center

Increases the capacity of parents to participate and engage in the educational system through training and support programs.

2) Establishment of an Arts Advisory Committee

Advises, makes recommendations and issues an annual report on educational policy involving arts education.

3) Clarifies Review Process of Principals by Superintendents

Includes quality of curriculum and instruction as part of superintendent review of principals.

4) Requiring Schools to Hold Open Public Meetings Concerning School Safety

Directs each school to conduct meetings at least annually, open to parents, to discuss safety concerns including matters related to school safety officers.

Delivering a quality education for all our children is a moral imperative, said Senate President Pro Tempore Malcolm A. Smith.

Establishing greater avenues for parental input in our schools will better prepare students to contribute as our next generation of thinkers, workers and leaders. The more engaged parents are, the better an education our children receive. We now have a system designed to serve their needs and provide the education our children deserve.

“This agreement will hold Mayor Bloomberg accountable for the performance of the city’s public school system, and equally important it will provide greater parental involvement in their children’s education, increased curriculum oversight by senior officials, and decision-making input at the school level by superintendents, principals and parents on transportation, school safety, nutrition and other issues, said Senate Majority Leader Pedro Espada, Jr.

It will enhance areas that need improvement and further strengthen areas that have experienced success. This agreement, which creates a network of support for our children, will result in greater student achievement.”

I would like to thank Mayor Bloomberg, Senators Shirley Huntley and Martin Dilan, as well as our partners in the education community for working together to improve the education of the Citys 1.1 million students, said Senate Majority Conference Leader John L. Sampson.

To provide our children with the tools they need to succeed in life requires a partnership between parents, educators and policy makers. Today, we have taken a significant step toward realizing that goal.

The Senate is expected to return to Albany to vote on the legislation before schools open.

Also helpful in reaching a final agreement were Deputy Mayor Dennis Walcott, Deputy Chancellor Chris Serf, Randi Weingarten, President American Federation of Teachers and President United Federation of Teachers; Michael Mulgrew, Vice President, United Federation of Teachers; Jon Kest, Head Organizer NY ACORN (part of the Campaign for Better Schools); and Billy Easton, Executive Director, Alliance for Quality Education and Organizer with the Campaign for Better Schools.

By on July 24, 2009, 2:37 pm
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