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Bloomberg's campaign to take advice from former student leader

The newest hire on Mayor Bloomberg’s reelection team used to sit on the old Board of Education — as its student member.

Today, Andrea Batista Schlesinger announced that she was taking a leave as the executive director of the progressive Drum Major Institute to join the Bloomberg campaign as a policy adviser.

Fifteen years ago, Batista Schlesinger was a senior at Brooklyn’s Murrow High School, with aspirations to grow up and be schools chancellor. At the time, she was a vociferous advocate of student input who had just been elected the non-voting student member of the city’s Board of Education. From a November 1993 profile in the New York Times:

“The Board of Education treats students as children,” she said during an appearance this fall on “New York Closeup,” New York One’s public affairs program, “and I’m talking about 17-year-old students who are going on to college. If you really want the system to work well, you’re going to have to allow more student input.”

At a board meeting after the interview, Ms. Schlesinger heard Michael J. Petrides, the Staten Island representative, praise her performance. “Some of the rest of us on the board could learn a lot from Andrea,” Mr. Petrides said. “She was independent, she knew her constituency, she was marvelous to see. I was in awe.”

But all board members are not always happy with Ms. Schlesinger’s ideas. Ms. Schlesinger created a stir recently by challenging the rule that has excluded student members from participating in the board’s closed-door “executive session” meetings.

Batista Schlesinger’s Board of Education term was also the subject of a documentary, “Hear Us Now,” which is available for the modest sum of $195.

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