Wednesday, January 10, 2007

Let's Experiment

Why not? We've already dismissed good teachers, small classes, and decent facilities as too expensive. And our union has directly enabled this experimentation.

UFT President Randi Weingarten supported mayoral control, and later co-wrote a column criticizing it. She then prominently sat on the sidelines, declining to endorse the mayor's opponent. While mayoral control is set to sunset in a few years, despite her previous words, Ms. Weingarten thus far declines to speak out against its renewal.

What would it take for Ms. Weingarten to take a principled stand? How about this?

Mayor Bloomberg will announce sweeping changes to the public school system next week, including a major push to turn over more management functions to private companies, sources said yesterday.

Rumors of the impending shakeup have swirled among public school managers for weeks, but City Hall officials refused yesterday to talk about any aspect of the plan, which Bloomberg is expected to outline during his State of the City address next Wednesday.

According to education sources who have been informed about portions of the plan, the mayor will propose:

  • Doubling the number of schools in Schools Chancellor Joel Klein's experimental "Empowerment Zone" from the current 300 to more than 600 - nearly half of all schools in the system.

  • Hiring private education companies as consultants or managers to oversee smaller networks of schools within the Empowerment Zone. They also would run some support services for the entire system.

  • Further reducing the 10 existing regional school districts into five superdistricts - one for each borough.

    After Bloomberg won mayoral control of the schools during his first term, Klein tore apart the city's old community decentralization system, consolidating the functions of the original 32 district superintendents and redistributing them to 10 new regional superintendents.

    "This is so reckless," said Randi Weingarten, president of the United Federation of Teachers. "We've been hearing all sorts of rumors about privatizing the system and a radical restructuring. How many more of these restructurings must we go through?"

    Weingarten said she tried during the past few days to get City Hall officials to reveal their plans, but was rebuffed...

  • The only surprise here is that Ms.Weingarten expected to be consulted. As she's rendered herself (and the UFT) irrelevant by consistently declining to provide substantive opposition or creative leadership, this was to be expected. In related news, Mayor Mike has won his bid to build four schools on a contaminated site. This shows how much he cares about public schoolchildren.

    Snookering the UFT President to enable his privatization of the school system shows how much he cares about business. And now, more than ever, we need leaders who won't let Mayor Mike give us the business anymore.
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