Critics of mayoral control have already proposed one major check on the mayor: taking away his effective control over the school board. Now a Brooklyn lawmaker is making another suggestion. Assemblyman James Brennan wants the legislature to take away the mayor’s authority to appoint the schools chancellor instead.
Diane Ravitch, the NYU education historian and critic of the Bloomberg administration’s school policies, has also said that the independent school board should select the schools chancellor, as happened before 2002. But the endorsement of one of the lawmakers who will write the new mayoral control law this summer (Brennan sits on the education committee) gives the idea extra heft.
Here’s how Brennan explained the idea to me earlier this month:
My view is that the board should hire the chancellor… I just think that the chancellor being obligated to report directly to the mayor with no balance, because the mayor also appoints a huge majority of the board, kind of makes the chancellor subordinate to whatever the public relations manipulation of the moment is for the mayor and the mayor’s re-election schemes. So I think just philosophically I support a more democratic structure, in which policy decisions get a legitimate review by an independent board.
Brennan is also the author of a report criticizing the Bloomberg administration’s claims about its work with the public schools. More on that later today.