Monday, September 08, 2008

Duped and Rebuked

Reading the NY Daily News editorial this morning on its support for maintaining mayoral control of the schools, we couldn't help but feel the whiff of Armageddon: "The assault has begun - and the city's 1.1 million public school students are in jeopardy. The drive has started to place children's futures in the hands of unaccountable, unelected, politically wired functionaries. The campaign is underway to turn the clock back to the days when responsibility for running the nation's largest school system was sliced and diced so many ways that everyone was in charge and no one was in charge."

Beware the forces of evil at work-looking to undo all of the wondrous work that Mayor Mike and the Kleinemen have done: "Now, the forces are gathering for what would be the most destructive power grab in the city's history. New York's public schools have made huge strides since 2002. Reading and math scores are up. So, too, are graduation rates. City kids are gaining on their peers across the state. The achievement gap between minority and white children is closing. None of that would have happened without a politically accountable chief executive wielding the power to force change. And all this progress could come to a crashing halt if the mayor loses authority."

Really now, this is over the top for even the most sycophantic. The facts here don't nearly support, either the beyond laudatory rhetoric, or the charge that critics of the current educational dictatorship are out to return the schools to the dark ages. Having transparency and a modicum of checks and balances does not signal a, "destructive power grab."

Actually, when we reflect a bit on this, it is the current system that most resembles the power grab that the News seems terrified of. What's particularly sad, is just how far the paper goes in swallowing whole the mayor's masterful spin job. It's way past time for the legislative deconstruction to begin; the governance system, along with its putative achievements, need a full and thorough review.

Moreover, there is a big difference between oversight and transparency and a system that would, "reduce the mayor to serving as a figurehead over the schools." As usual, the answer probably lies somewhere in between; but the News does the issue little service in its caricature of legitimate opposition to the current unaccountable royal structure.