Monday, July 20, 2009

Mayoral Control Freakout

The impasse over school governance took a turn for the hyperbolic last Friday when Mike Bloomberg-that acknowledged master of Yiddishkeit-let loose on some state senators who won't join with his well paid laundry list of loyal retainers in support of total mayoral control over the city's schools: "Using some of his strongest language to date, Mayor Bloomberg gave the Senate Democrats a tongue-lashing this morning - even calling some of them out by name - for failing yet again to pass a bill reauthorizing his control over the public school system. During his weekly WOR radio show, Bloomberg told host John Gambling Gov. David Paterson should force the Senate to return to Albany "every single day" for the rest of the summer until they pass a mayoral control bill, even employing the State Police to "drag them back" if necessary. "This is what he should do," Bloomberg said of Paterson, noting that he has been "defending" the governor throughout the Senate stalemate. "Giving them the summer off is as we say in Gallic, ‘Meshugenah'".

Bloomberg, unsatisfied with this simple brief outburst, then went even further in his castigation. As the NY Post reported on Saturday: "Bloomberg went after five senators by name for voting in favor of an alternate bill that would have gutted mayoral control -- a measure that failed but was widely seen as a public rebuke of the mayor -- and called it "bull." Bloomberg said he wouldn't appease them the way Neville Chamberlain caved in to Hitler."

So, we guess, Mike Bloomberg is right up there in the pantheon of heroic anti-Nazi freedom fighters-placing the issue of mayoral control on the same level with ridding the world of a genocidal maniac. Talk about megalomania!

But yesterday the senators themselves took the fight right to city hall. As the NY Times reports: "In the increasingly acrimonious battle over mayoral control of New York City’s public schools, 10 senators, all of them Democrats, held an hourlong news conference, ostensibly to demand that Mayor Michael R. Bloomberg make some concessions before they consider extending his control. All of the senators spoke, and they proclaimed the issue too important to be sidetracked by political rhetoric. Then some proceeded to vilify the mayor, calling him everything from a dictator to a yenta to a plantation owner."

What we now have, it seems, is a staged battle between two sides-both of whom feel that the escalating rhetoric serves their political purpose. Lost in this rhetorical miasma, however, is the fact that the schools haven't been rescued from damnation since Bloomberg ascended to the role of Philosopher King; and that the out of control spending increases-both the public's and his own-along with watered down tests and media collusion, have allowed Mike to paint a misleading picture of the current public school reality.

In fact, listening to Mike Bloomberg on schools is like listening to the Reverend Ike talk about salvation and the Kingdom of the Lord. So what we need now, is for the political critics of the mayor to chill out a bit-and come back with an incisive critique of the current educational situation. Nothing will deconstruct the mayor's mythos more than a sober evaluation of Bloomberg's blatant misrepresentation of school accomplishments under his lavish stewardship.