The United Federation of Teachers on Thursday unveiled a new plan for reversing the City's mayoral control over public schools-- one that would reduce City Hall's appointments to the Panel for Educational Policy from a majority to a minority.
Currently, the mayor selects eight of the 13 PEP appointments. The teachers union has outlined a plan that -- when the current governance law expires June 2015 -- reduces those appointments from eight to five, eliminating the City's rigid say-so over school policy.
Although statistics show that public school graduation rates have increased steadily in recent years, UFT President Michael Mulgrew insists that the mayor's policies have been hurtful, ineffective and have created public disenchantment:
"It is clear that mayoral control in its current form has not worked,” Mulgrew said. “We wanted mayoral control, not a mayoral dictatorship.”
Aside from reducing the mayor's appointments to five, UFT proposes that the remaining eight be divided among the five borough presidents, the comptroller, the public advocate and the City Council speaker. The plan also would limit the mayor’s ability to select the schools chancellor.
All of the leading mayoral candidates in the past have criticized the way Bloomberg has governed the public schools. And Comptroller John Liu, who released a proposal for restructuring the Panel for Educational Policy last month, committed to greatly diminishing mayoral control over schools, if elected.
However, City Council Speaker Christine Quinn, a leading Democratic candidate for mayor, opposed the plan, along with the mayor's spokeswoman, Lauren Passalacqua, who called the proposal an attempt to reduce individual accountability.
“It's no surprise they want to return to those days by watering down a key reform that raised accountability and took control away from the special interests,” Passalacqua said.
Chandra M. Hayslett, spokeswoman for StudentsFirstNY called the UFT's latest missive a return for New York City to the days of "patronage, graft and corruption, with a system that has no accountability whatsoever" and where fewer than half of the kids were graduating from high school.
"We call on all of the mayoral candidates to fully reject this proposal," said Hayslett.
Mulgrew assured reporters that the UFT plan would arrive as a bill in the current legislative session in Albany.