Tuesday, November 16, 2010

More reasons to dump mayoral control

Need a couple of good reasons to get rid of mayoral control of urban schools? How about Bloomberg and Daley? Narrow, self-serving political agendas have left both of their autocratically-run school systems in chaos.

With a week to go before Chicago schools chief Ron Huberman flees the coop, there is still no official word on his replacement. It's been 5 months since the system had a chief education officer. And even machine guy and front-running mayoral candidate Rahm Emanuel has to preface his education platform with a slam on the current Daley-run system. 
"Chicago's public schools are on a precipice. Testing indicates that 86% of our elementary-school graduates won't be ready for college. Nearly half of high-school entrants will not graduate. Teachers and students aren't learning the skills they need, and too many parents are on the sidelines." (Crain's)

The problem for Rahm is that all this comes after 15 years of mayoral control, including 7 years with Rahm's guy, Arne Duncan at the helm, implementing the very failed policies that Emanuel vows to continue. Says Rahm:
"I believe we should establish Chicago's Race to the Top. If we can raise private capital from our businesses and philanthropic community for the Olympics, we can do so for our children's future."
Whoops. Bad example, Rahm. I mean--the Olympics? Didn't anyone tell you not to say the O-word back here in Chicago? This plus privatization of garbage collection don't sound like political winners to me. But what do I know?

In NYC, Bloomberg's autocratic style has created a new firestorm of protest and opposition. His pick of the eminently unqualified Cathie Black as Joel Klein's replacement was made secretly, so as to "avoid a public spectacle." It left observers (like me) wondering, who's advising this guy?

All this, following on the heels of the Fenty/Rhee debacle in D.C., has once again put mayoral control of the schools back into the limelight and hopefully, at the risk of mixing my metaphors, back onto the chopping block.

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