I have a strong feeling this post will need to be expanded and expounded upon as time goes on.
- NY Governor Andrew Cuomo and Lt. Gov.-elect Mayor Robert Duffy, both aggressive supporters and advocates for mayoral control
I was reading Sabrina’s recent response post to yet another advocate for mayoral control, this time in Denver. The mayoral control proponents never cease to amaze me. Mayoral control as a governance system has been debated, researched, and attempted in several cities throughout the country. However, there’s still a lot of uncertainty in policy and research circles, which mayoral control proponents don’t seem to want to acknowledge.
There’s been so many alternative proposals put forth in political debates that the mayoral control cheerleaders rejected in favor of autocratic school governance. The deceptive guise of “stability” and “efficiency” frequently get thrown around in order to bully and pressure the public into believing a viciously undemocratic governance structure like mayoral control is the only way any type of progress or change can occur in schools.
Solid ideas I’ve frequently seen blindly rejected in favor of mayoral control include intense, public screening process for school board candidates and superintendents in which grassroots organizations would interface with the usual school board interview procedures. Other ideas include putting in place structural changes requiring board members to publicly weigh in and consider constituents’ (students, parents, teachers, community members) concerns and proposals following Board meetings. More transparent, public openings for the public to voice their concern is clearly necessary.
How about nonpartisan elections for School Boards so as to not have any party machinery screen and control what types of candidates get on to school boards to begin with? After all attempting to replicate Boss Tweed’s political machine over and over again doesn’t mix well with our professed respect for democratic institutions, right?
Another idea would be the direct election of superintendents or a mixed election process somewhere in between a Board appointment of a Superintendent and a direct, public election of the leader of a district. Board members could have increased oversight of district operations and increased flexibility to grant autonomous, public schools more leverage over their day-to-day decisions.
Also, how about having School Board members paid enough that they don’t have to have other jobs and, thus, neglect their public responsibility on the Board? Either that or no salary at all to hopefully insure that the Board isn’t filled with opportunistic political vultures. Keep in mind, all just suggestions here. Suggestions I’d like to see seriously considered rather than outright dismissed.