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Parent activists feel “sucked down a vortex” on mayoral control

Here’s a good barometer of the mood this morning among parent activists who were fighting mayoral control, via an e-mail I just got from one of them:

We parents feel like we’re being sucked down a vortex here. Any chance you would consider calling assemblymembers and asking them point blank if they support fixed terms for the PEP? A week ago that looked like it was in at least. Please, please, please?

Silver’s plan, announced to lawmakers last night and leaked to the Times, does not include fixed terms for members of the citywide school board, known as the Panel for Educational Policy.

Another sign of growing frustration: Leonie Haimson, the executive director of Class Size Matters and a leader among the parent activists, has these frank remarks about teachers union president Randi Weingarten in a City Hall News interview this week:

CH: What do you make of UFT President Randi Weingarten’s change of heart about mayoral control? LH: I find it very disappointing. I don’t think she’s looking out for the real interests of the teachers, who overwhelmingly in surveys have expressed their dissatisfaction with Joel Klein and the current system. They are as concerned as parents with overcrowding, excessive class sizes and the fact that our schools are being turned into test-prep factories. This is really diminishing their ability to do their job effectively, and they have expressed that in many ways, in many forums.

Other parents criticized Weingarten’s position on mayoral control last week.

Meanwhile, Billy Easton, a director of the Campaign for Better Schools, remains optimistic. “There is no bill yet; there is still time to fix some of the shortcomings,” Easton said in a statement e-mailed out just now. The statement says Silver’s plan fails to strengthen the citywide school board, the Panel for Educational Policy, and fails to add in enough parental involvement.