Silver Proposes Only Minimal Changes to Governance

The NY Times has a report today on Shelly Silver's proposal for renewal of mayoral control. The changes to the central board, currently called the Panel for Educational Policy, would not reduce the mayor's authority:

"Another concern among critics of mayoral control has been bolstering the independence of panel members. Over the past seven years, the panel has become something of a rubber stamp for the mayor’s policies, having never rejected a proposal from Mr. Bloomberg.

Critics have pushed for fixed terms for panel members, a measure aimed at preventing the mayor from removing panelists who voice opposition to his proposals. But Mr. Silver’s plan maintains the requirement that panelists serve at the pleasure of the mayor."
Instead of fewer mayoral appointees or fixed terms for members, the Silver plan would require the mayor to appoint two public school parents and have someone other than the Chancellor chair the body.

Based on my experience on the Panel over the last two years, I don't see these changes as significant or likely to change anything about the functioning of the Panel. The mayor's current appointees generally have poor attendance at Panel meetings and briefings and make minimal or no contribution to the discussions. They are there simply to vote as instructed. Requiring someone who has never demonstrated any interest in public schools to chair the citywide board is not going to restore anyone's confidence in what even the Times calls a rubber stamp. Perhaps the parents appointed by the mayor will actually speak.

The Times does suggest Silver will call for changes to the role of district superintendents and community school districts. We'll see. The administration has been willing and able to evade statutory requirements at the district level, even despite a Senate lawsuit. It is unlikely that trying to legislate better behavior from the administration will work without addressing the balance of power on the board.

Today's Times article here. Their earlier study of the PEP here.
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