Monday, June 15, 2009

A Boost for Mayoral Control and Praise for Assembly Bill

Geoffrey Canada, who heads the Harlem Children's Zone nonprofit organization, also has founded two charter schools in upper Manhattan. One of his several hats is he is a trustee of the group "LearnNY," an outfit set up earlier this year to push for renewing the New York City Mayor's control of the school system.

Geoff Canada just released a statement praising the legislation introduced by the leadership in the state Assembly that would renew mayoral control. Canada praises Assembly Speaker, Sheldon Silver and Education Committee Chairwoman, Catherine Nolan for "preserving the accountability that makes the system work," even as they added some measures to increase transparency and parent voices.

Mr. Canada's endorsement is reassuring for charter schools most of which have been supplied district-owned space, thanks to Mayor Bloomberg and Chancellor Klein. The absence of available district space would mean far fewer charter schools since they don't get building aid and real estate is far more expensive in the City. With reasonable notice of intent to use space, and the public hearings already mandated in the Charter School Law, it is encouraging that the Assembly appears to have done right by all concerned, including charter school founder, Geoff Canada. Of course, the devil is in the details, but LearnNY's backing is significant.

It also is critical that the reasonableness of the Assembly's bill to largely continue the current powers of the Mayor over the City school system makes it that much easier for a divided and chaotic Senate to oblige without much further thought. While the Senate negotiates power-sharing in the brave new world of an evenly-divided house at 31-to-31, the positive aspect of the Assembly's mayoral control bill should make the Senate's job much simpler.

Peter Murphy
for The Chalkboard

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