While the State Senate dithers, the State Assembly passes, and among the bits of legislation approved in the lower house in recent days was a bill that would extend mayoral control over the city’s public schools. Credit Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver of the Lower East Side for recognizing the importance of this measure and not pandering to critics who apparently pine for a return to the bad old days of Fortress Education at 110 Livingston Street in Brooklyn.
The old Board of Education was unaccountable and inefficient, staffed with political patronage hires and time-servers. Successive mayors were unable to tear down the walls that separated New York’s schoolchildren from the delivery of a sound public education. Mayor Michael Bloomberg, however, has succeeded where others failed. That’s why the board’s old headquarters on Livingston Street is now a condo, and accountable educators have taken up residence in the Tweed Courthouse, home of the Department of Education.
Mayoral control of the schools was due to expire this month, inspiring thoughts that pressure groups might lean on the Democratic-controlled Assembly to either block continued reform or water down mayoral control so drastically that the schools would return to the education bureaucrats who mismanaged the system for so many years. Mr. Silver, who is hardly a friend of Mr. Bloomberg, realized that mayoral control has produced real results in the classroom. And so he and other key Democrats, including the Education Committee chair, Catherine Nolan, voted in favor of the new, successful order.
Now it’s up to the State Senate—a scary thought indeed. The good senators have not had a chance to vote on this vital issue because they’re not sure who’s in charge. Perhaps they’ll get around to the people’s business one of these days.