Under mayoral control, parents are “exhausted,” politicians are the “enemy” and superintendents are “number−crunchers.”
That’s what Brooklyn parents and teachers said at last week’s town hall to discuss the state law granting the mayor complete authority over the public school system. That law will sunset this June and state legislature will decide whether or not to renew it.
“It has become exhausting to be the parent of a public school child,” said Georgette Pezzolanti, president of School District 21’s Presidents’ Council.
“There’s no one to talk to,” agreed Doreen Daly, president of District 20’s Presidents’ Council. “Every time I get a real person on the phone who helps me, a month later they’re in a different position.”
Apparently, local elected officials are in the same boat.
Assemblymember Peter Abbate calls the city Department of Education (DOE), “I can’t get an answer.”
“[When] I want to give money to the schools, I can’t even do that,” Abbate added. “For some reason, they think we are the enemy.”
Part of the problem, speakers said, is that community superintendents spend most of their time supervising schools outside district lines, thereby leaving school districts without an administrator available to address parents’ concerns.
“District superintendents and principals have been transformed into number−crunchers, as opposed to being able to do hands−on action,” said Brian Gotlieb, who served on District 21’s school board until mayoral control was implemented.
“Parents have no place to go when they have a problem,” said City Councilmember Domenic Recchia. “The superintendent tells them, ‘There’s nothing I can do. I have no authority over the school.’ This has to change.”
Many members of Community Education Councils (CEC), which replaced school boards, say the groups are powerless.
“When the old school board and the superintendent spoke, the mayor’s office listened,” noted Judy Gerowitz, District 21’s United Federation of Teachers (UFT) representative.
Mayor Michael Bloomberg’s office insists that schools have thrived under mayoral control.
©2009 Community News Group
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