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Parent advocacy groups could be a parting gift of control debate

One outcome of Albany’s debate over mayoral control may have nothing to do with state law. The political wrangling may end up leaving the city with permanent parent advocacy groups.

Last Friday, Democratic state senators reached a deal with Mayor Bloomberg (that may or may not pass), essentially ending the drawn-out negotiations. Yet groups that were in the thick of the political fight just last week are intent on remaining active, even if the mayoral control debate has largely ended.

Learn NY, which was set up roughly a year ago by allies of the Bloomberg administration to campaign for mayoral control’s renewal, will continue to exist until the Senate passes a bill bringing mayoral control back. After that, the group’s future is uncertain.

Learn NY spokeswoman Julie Wood refused to comment in greater detail.

On the opposite side of the debate are groups like the Campaign for Better Schools, the 3Rs Coalition, and the Parent Commission on School Governance, all of which advocated for significant changes to the 2002 school governance law, but favored keeping mayoral control in place. Each them face their own existential questions.

“No determination about the future of the Campaign for Better Schools has been made,” said the campaign’s director Billy Easton, in an email today.

“There is no question that the groups who comprise the Campaign for Better Schools will continue working together and organizing for educational justice,” he wrote.

At least a portion of the campaign’s funding will end this Friday, when a $350,000 grant from the Donors’ Education Collaborative, known as DEC, is set to expire.

“The grant was given a little over a year ago to encourage debate around the issue of mayoral control,” said Norma Rollins, coordinator of DEC. Rollins added that all of the campaign’s lobbying efforts were funded separately.

Steven Bell, a member of the 3Rs Coalition, which has worked with the Parent Commission to lobby for increased parental involvement, said his group would continue lobbying regardless of whatever deal is brokered. “Even after the legislature passes whatever they pass, we’ll probably continue working,” he said.

Leonie Haimson, a member of the Parent Commission, was more guarded about the organization’s future. “I think we’ll be putting out a statement later,” she said. “I don’t think we want to jump the gun at this point.”

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