Monday, September 08, 2008

No Mayor Left Behind

Mayor Mike is beginning to get kinda testy about the prospects of having his educational dictatorship independently reviewed. As the NY Daily News reported last week, a state commission is recommending a number of changes to the city's educational governance system-and, guess what?-Mike's not happy: "An eagerly awaited report that supports extending mayoral control of the school system didn't go far enough for Mayor Bloomberg, who branded it "just a political thing." "I can't take it very seriously because they have yet to even provide a copy to the Department of Education, so I assume it's just a political thing," Bloomberg said, charging there are provisions in it that would "basically end mayoral control, gut it completely."

Just a political thing? As opposed to the manner in which Bloomberg, Klein, and their army of flacks down at Tweed have turned the Chambers Street headquarters into "Spin City?" Please stop it Mike! The entire process by which mayoral control was granted was quintessentially political-as it should be, since educating the city's children is probably the single most important policy that any mayor could have.

But let's take a closer look at what Bloomberg's really saying. His main point here is that, unless the mayor has total control, the law will be "gutted!" A viewpoint that fully underscores the mayor's regal mindset, but one that at the same time dramatizes the compelling need to get the power corrupted from their position of unchecked authority.

As one critic pointed out: "Billy Easton, who is coordinating a coalition of parent and community groups focused on mayoral control, called the report a good starting place for the discussion. "They've emphasized the needs for checks and balances, for transparency, and the critical need for parents to have a real voice," he said."

The report emphasizes the need for proper oversight, something that has been almost totally absent under the Politburo-like governance system that Vladimir Bloomberg has set up: "The report recommends that the city's Independent Budget Office have the same oversight at the Education Department as it does over other city agencies and that the city controller have auditing power. The commission also suggests that the city reestablish 32 geographical school districts to allow parents more access to school officials."

Mayoral ally Kathy Wylde disagrees, but who cares? Wylde has no ed cred and runs a business group that is so in the tank for the mayor that its members should wear scuba suits. More worrisome is the way in which the Bloomberg charitable giving-actual and potential-has suborned the independent educational voices that would normally be heard on this issue.

Instead, Wylde is front an center with bogus gloom and doom predictions: "There's a danger of totally diluting mayoral control and undermining all the progress that's been made," said Kathryn Wylde, president of the Partnership for New York City. "Who knows what can happen in the middle of the night in Albany."

What progress? That's the key question here; one that can't be answered unless we can transcend the deliberate fogging that has characterized the Bloomberg-Klein regime.