Among those who will decide whether to scrap, renew, or revise the law granting the mayor control over the city’s public schools is an impeccably dressed former principal with an aggressively anti-Bloomberg position.
Inez Barron, of Brooklyn, is the wife of Charles Barron, the City Council member who recently called for Joel Klein’s resignation and urged that mayoral control be abolished. She also happens to be a member of the state Assembly, the body that, along with the Senate and Governor Paterson, will decide what to do about mayoral control before June 30 (next month!).
Her election in November brought her into a group of state lawmakers who have also voiced a slew of concerns about mayoral control. But Barron, who worked for the city schools for many years, including as the principal of PS 81 in the Bedford-Stuyvesant section of Brooklyn, appears to have one of the more radical criticisms.
At a panel I moderated last weekend, Barron said she favors letting the current law sunset altogether and writing an entirely new version, rather than simply “tweaking” the current system as some have advocated. She said that good schools require shared decision-making between parents, teachers, and administrators. She also criticized the current version of mayoral control under Bloomberg, declaring that his Department of Education criminalizes young people, excludes diverse curriculum, and said that the mayor is “gentrifying the public school system.”
She also urged people in the room, members of the Central Brooklyn Independent Democrats political club, to join her in the fight to change the law, saying that opponents of mayoral control are losing the battle to swamp state lawmakers with their opinion. “The other groups are very organized, and they’ve got the money behind them. They’ve got the preponderance in my office, even though that’s not what my constituents feel like,” she said, urging people in the audience to “organize” by sending postcards and letters and taking lobbying trips.
“It’s upon us. The hour is already late,” she said.