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Union's mayoral control stance draws opposition from both sides

The city teachers union teachers union is catching no breaks on its proposed mayoral control position, which last night sailed through the first of two hoops required before it becomes official union policy.

First, the Department of Education and the group supporting mayoral control, Learn NY, dismissed the union’s proposal as a step backward, comparing it to the way the public schools were run before mayoral control. Both don’t like the union’s proposal to empower the Panel for Educational Policy, now seen as a rubber stamp, into an effective school board that would have to approve policy decisions.

Now, the mayor controls a majority of appointments on the panel, and can dismiss any of these members at a moment’s notice. Under the union’s proposal, the mayor would control only 5 of 13 seats, and term limits would protect board members from overnight removal.

“We can’t have it both ways,” Learn NY board chair Geoffrey Canada said in a statement. “Either one person is in charge, or no one is.”

The union is also receiving criticism from a group of its own members, who late last night released a minority report suggesting that the legislature carve even more power away from the mayor. While the union’s official proposal calls for the mayor to retain authority over the school budget and over day-to-day operations inside the school system, the minority report looks very much like the pre-mayoral control governance setup. It recommends making school board membership elected positions, giving parents the authority to select superintendents, and having the central school board — not the mayor — select the schools chancellor.

Members of the union’s own committee to study school governance wrote the minority report. They belong to an opposition caucus inside the union called the Independent Community of Educators, or ICE.

CORRECTION: I originally included a photo with this post that was not related to ICE. Apologies for the error.

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