Vacca submits report to Quinn on mayor’s school control renewal

Councilmen Robert Jackson, James Vacca and David Yassky, co-chairs of the Council’s Working Group on Mayoral Control and School Governance, issued a series of recommendations on school governance. The report will be submitted to Speaker Quinn, State Assembly and Senate leaders, the Governor, the Mayor and the Chancellor for their consideration. The recommendations, which call for the renewal of Mayoral Control with additional Council oversight, also include the goal improving parental engagement and involvement in city schools. The Working Group, formed in July 2007, conducted months of meetings and was presented with diverse views and opinions. The recommendations being issued today represent a variety of perspectives within the Council.

Working Group co-chairs Yassky and Vacca, and Jackson highlighted the importance of the recommendations.

“After a year and a half of discussion and debate, the Council’s working group on school governance is putting forth its recommendations on how to improve governance of New York City public schools,” said Education Committee chair Robert Jackson. As a parent advocate, I have spent years working to give parents a louder voice in their children’s education. The recommendations being put forth today send a powerful statement that Mayoral Control can only work when communities and local entities are empowered to provide more input.”

“A key recommendation of our work group revolves around restoring the Community Superintendent to its rightful place as the education leader in each district,” said Councilman James Vacca. “While still reporting to the Chancellor, we want the Superintendent to oversee principals and report regularly on school activities and issues to the CEC, which we envision as being the focal point of parent communication and policy input. Our proposal addresses a key critique of the current system by giving parents a more meaningful role in assessing school leadership effectiveness and reviewing school progress.”

The Working Group will be releasing a full report of their findings in the coming weeks. In most areas the working group came to a firm recommendation and in other areas where consensus could not reached, various common-sense options are listed. Included in their final recommendations are:

Create a System of Municipal Control – The Working Group strongly believes that the Department of Education (DOE) must function like every other City agency from a budget, legislative and oversight perspective.

Create an Independent Data Analysis Body – The role of the Independent Budget Office (IBO) should be expanded to take on the vital task of providing independent analysis of DOE data and issue annual performance and budget reports.

Greater Independence for the Panel for Educational Policy (PEP) – The Working Group agrees that the Chancellor should not be a PEP member, but should report to the board. The Working Group will present a number of plans for achieving greater independence.

Selection of the Chancellor – The Mayor should continue to select the Chancellor, and the City Council should be required to hold a public hearing and vote on any request to waive requirements for the position, which are outlined by City and State Law.

Re-empower Community Superintendents – The role of community superintendent should be restored as the educational leader for schools in their community school district. Superintendents should be a parent’s first point of contact if they are unable to solve a grievance on the school level.

Strengthen Community Level Parent Engagement Structures – Rather than having several disconnected entities to serve as vehicles for parent input at the district level, some of the parent engagement structures and functions should be incorporated into a single entity. Additionally, The Borough Presidents and City Council should be granted an appointee to District Leadership Teams. Third, School Leadership Teams should be empowered to develop their school’s Comprehensive Educational Plan, after holding public meetings to allow for parent comment and review as well as play a role in evaluating the principal.

Six Year Sunset Provision – The State Legislature should extend mayoral control with the amendments listed above and have the legislation sunset in 6 years.

About the City Council’s Working Group on Mayoral Control and School Governance:

The City Council’s Working Group was formed in the summer of July 2007, and is chaired by councilmen James Vacca, Robert Jackson and David Yassky. The group was open to all interested Council members and their staff.

Between October 2007 and January 2009, chairs, members and staff held multiple meetings with stakeholders and experts, convened a public hearing and deliberated their final recommendations.

Vacca, Quinn, Mayor, school, control

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