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Live-blogging the Bronx mayoral control hearing

The state Assembly is having its penultimate hearing on mayoral control today, this time in the Bronx. Philissa is at the hearing, and I’m going to post some live updates as she e-mails them to me.

4:27: Cathy Nolan, the education committee chair, and other Assembly members are trying to figure out what the requirements are to get into a middle school gifted and talented program, Philissa reports.

4:26: Parents and teachers are finally testifying, Philissa writes. On the same panel, a teacher and parent from two Bronx schools that are slated to close are testifying against mayoral control, while a parent and principal from a big middle school are saying mayoral control helped their school.

The pro-mayoral control parent, Teresa Jordan, went slightly off message to say that district parent councils should have more power. (Many have complained that the councils have been deprived of power under the mayor.)

If the opposing sides created any tension, it’s defused by the fact that only a handful of seats in the audience remain filled. Several Assembly members have also left. But there could be an after-work-hours revival: April Humphrey from the Campaign for Better Schools says over 100 parents plan to arrive at around 5:30, and the chair, Cathy Nolan, says Lehman College will be keeping the auditorium open long after its normal 6 pm closing time.

2:37: Another Philissa report, on Deputy Chancellor Chris Cerf’s statement that lowering class sizes by just 10% would cost a gigantic amount.

2:29: We’ve posted a dispatch from Philissa summarizing the long-awaited recommendations of the Parent Commission on School Governance. They want — yup — a greater role for parents. And they have some interesting other ideas, including the idea of school board members collectively appointing four expert members.

1:40: By Philissa’s count, Department of Education officials have been testifying for three presumably uninterrupted hours!

1:29:A large contingent of attendees organized by the South Bronx Churches coalition left the hearing early in protest. They charge that the Assembly members are stacked against mayoral control. The South Bronx Churches group say mayoral control is essential because it wiped out community school boards, which they describe as being patronage mills throughout the 1990s.

12:34: The house is packed, and 90 people have already signed up to speak. A team of Department of Education officials are now in front of the panel, including Deputy Chancellor Christopher Cerf and Deputy Mayor Dennis Walcott. The tenor is a little raucous: Philissa reports that someone just booed Walcott. Catherine Nolan, the chair of the Assembly’s education committee, then chastised the person. Which in turn led to hissing…

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