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Silver’s bill clears its last hurdle before tomorrow’s Assembly vote

ALBANY, NY — One branch of the state government is functioning today. Lawmakers in the Assembly pushed Silver’s mayoral control bill through the ways and means committee this afternoon, readying the bill for a final vote tomorrow.

The bill immediately passed with no discussion. At least three Assembly members voted against Silver’s plan, including Mark Weprin and Jeff Aubry of Queens and Deborah Glick of Manhattan.

Aubry said he was concerned that the bill did not place fixed terms on members of the citywide school board and that it gives the mayor a majority of the appointees to the Panel for Educational Policy. Both he and Glick are supporters of the “Better Schools Act.”

Tomorrow, the Assembly will vote on the bill, and even its most vocal critics agree that its passage is guaranteed.

UPDATE 2 (from Elizabeth): Billy Easton of the Campaign for Better Schools points out that nothing is final, even if the Assembly bill passes. “Tomorrow is an Assembly vote on their initial proposal,” he said. “That does not mean that that’s the final vote that they will take on this matter. We have to see what unfolds.” Easton added that lobbyists for the campaign are meeting with members from both the Assembly and the Senate.

Exactly how negotiations between the two houses will unfold, however, is almost impossible to figure out. Anna reports from Albany that she only persuaded one senator to talk to her about mayoral control today — and his response was to say, “It can’t stay the way it is,” and walk away laughing.

UPDATE (from Elizabeth in New York): Critics of the bill are fighting it vigorously. Ann Kjellberg is sending around to members of the Parent Commission on School Governance is sending out an urgent e-mail asking supporters to call elected officials immediately. The main asks: fixed terms for school board members, a two-year rather than six-year sunset, and a provision that would force the Department of Education to be subject to both city and state law.

The full e-mail:

Just back from Albany, where the situation is dismal. Our politicians, even as they nod seriously when we describe the DOE’s failures of management and process, are about to vote on laws that preserve the mayor’s absolute control and completely marginalize parents, educators, and the public. The City Council, though they have told us they will negotiate on behalf of constituent demands, is on the brink of voting for an education capital plan without appearing to have won a single concession from the DOE. TODAY IS THE DAY. PLEASE CALL YOUR CITY COUNCIL MEMBER, YOUR STATE SENATOR, AND YOUR ASSEMBLYMEMBER WITH THE FOLLOWING DEMANDS: 1) City Council: Parents demand a capital plan that addresses the city’s real overcrowding needs, present and future, instead of simply covering them up and waiting for the next crisis. We will cast votes on this issue. You have shown a lack of leadership. For Council phone numbers click here . 2) Assembly and Senate: Parents demand a governance law with real checks and balances. We demand the following (customize if you like): – fixed terms for School Board (PEP) members; – a minority of mayoral appointees on the School Board (PEP); – a DOE subject to city and state law; – enforcement of legal powers of local school boards (CECs) and districts, including CEC powers over zoning, school placement, and school closure; – a sunset of two years. You might also like to endorse the Parent Commission proposals recommended here . For Assembly phone numbers click here . For Senate phone numbers click here . The time is NOW! Our politicians are selling away our school system! Please spread the word! For info on how to send an email or a fax from your computer see pspac.wetpaint.com or write to me.