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Steps from mayoral control hearing, HS students say, "Huh?"

A sign at the entrance to the High School of American Studies at Lehman College. Via FlickrMayoral control ruled the day in the auditorium at Lehman College where the Assembly Education Committee hearing on school governance was taking place, but not everyone noticed.

When I stepped out of the hearing briefly this afternoon, I ran into a class from the High School of American Studies, a specialized high school located on Lehman’s campus. The class spends the last period of school every Friday exploring the campus, so today, their teacher brought them by hearing for a simple assignment: To figure out, based on the documents available at the auditorium’s entrance, what the event was about.

It didn’t take long for a handful of bright, resourceful kids to figure out that the attendees were tackling the question of “who should control the school district,” as one student put it. It was harder for their teacher to elicit correct answers to his subsequent probing questions: “Which school district?” “What are the choices?” “Which document is official?” One student even drew a blank on Mike Bloomberg’s name when he was asked to identify the city’s current mayor.

Their teacher explained that some say the mayor should control the schools, but that the alternative isn’t as clear-cut. “No one really knows who the other choice is,” he said.

Before they moved on to their next destination, I asked the dozen or students if they’d ever heard mayoral control discussed before today, at home or in the newspaper or on the subway. Not a single one had.

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