exclamation point

More than a month after its expiration, mayoral control is back

New York state senators resurrected mayoral control today, voting 47 against 8 to pass the legislation this afternoon.

According to the Daily News’ Liz Benjamin, debate over the bill lasted for two hours and turned personal when critics of mayoral control attacked the bill’s supporters, Sens. Daniel Squadron and Frank Padavan. The Senate also passed four amendments that will create a parent training center, an arts council, yearly school safety meetings, and expanded oversight of principals by superintendents.

Jimmy Vielkind at Politicker reports that the dissenting senators were Bill Perkins, Ruben Diaz Sr., Shirley Huntley, Kevin Parker, Velmanette Montgomery, Eric Adams, Carl Kruger, and Tom Duane. Perkins and Diaz also voted against all four amendments.

Standing on the Senate floor, Diaz forecast how tomorrow’s editorials would receive his vote. “You read it, tomorrow they’re going to call me a monkey, they’re going to call me a clown, they’re going to call me stupid. They’re going to call me all kinds of things,” he said.

The NY Post, which has been mayoral control’s biggest cheerleader, is reporting the news with an exclamation point in its lede.

“Mayor Bloomberg is still the undisputed educator-in-chief of New York City public schools!”

In a statement just sent out by Mayor Bloomberg’s office, the mayor thanked the two senators for sponsoring the bill. “With the governance question resolved, we can now move full steam ahead with efforts to ensure that this school year is marked by more great progress,” the statement said. Included in the list of people the mayor thanked is “Majority Leader Espada,” who is one half of the two-senator team that staged a Senate coup in early June and led to the mayoral control law’s sunset.

The state Senate also passed a resolution by a voice vote that will create a task force to oversee mayoral control. With a total of seven members — four Democratic senators and three Republicans — the subcomittee will have the power to hold hearings, issue subpoenas, and write reports.

Rise & Shine

While you were waking up, the U.S. Senate took a big step toward confirming Betsy DeVos as education secretary

Betsy DeVos’s confirmation as education secretary is all but assured after an unusual and contentious early-morning vote by the U.S. Senate.

The Senate convened at 6:30 a.m. Friday to “invoke cloture” on DeVos’s embattled nomination, a move meant to end a debate that has grown unusually pitched both within the lawmaking body and in the wider public.

They voted 52-48 to advance her nomination, teeing up a final confirmation vote by the end of the day Monday.

Two Republican senators who said earlier this week that they would not vote to confirm DeVos joined their colleagues in voting to allow a final vote on Monday. Susan Collins of Maine and Lisa Murkowski of Alaska cited DeVos’s lack of experience in public education and the knowledge gaps she displayed during her confirmation hearing last month when announcing their decisions and each said feedback from constituents had informed their decisions.

Americans across the country have been flooding their senators with phone calls, faxes, and in-person visits to share opposition to DeVos, a Michigan philanthropist who has been a leading advocate for school vouchers but who has never worked in public education.

They are likely to keep up the pressure over the weekend and through the final vote, which could be decided by a tie-breaking vote by Vice President Mike Pence.

Two senators commented on the debate after the vote. Republican Lamar Alexander of Tennessee, who has been a leading cheerleader for DeVos, said he “couldn’t understand” criticism of programs that let families choose their schools.

But Democrat Patty Murray of Washington repeated the many critiques of DeVos that she has heard from constituents. She also said she was “extremely disappointed” in the confirmation process, including the early-morning debate-ending vote.

“Right from the start it was very clear that Republicans intended to jam this nomination through … Corners were cut, precedents were ignored, debate was cut off, and reasonable requests and questions were blocked,” she said. “I’ve never seen anything like it.”

Week In Review

Week In Review: A new board takes on ‘awesome responsibility’ as Detroit school lawsuits advance

PHOTO: Erin Einhorn
The new Detroit school board took the oath and took on the 'awesome responsibility' of Detroit's children

It’s been a busy week for local education news with a settlement in one Detroit schools lawsuit, a combative new filing in another, a push by a lawmaker to overhaul school closings, a new ranking of state high schools, and the swearing in of the first empowered school board in Detroit has 2009.

“And with that, you are imbued with the awesome responsibility of the children of the city of Detroit.”

—    Judge Cynthia Diane Stephens, after administering the oath to the seven new members of the new Detroit school board

Read on for details on these stories plus the latest on the sparring over Education Secretary nominee Betsy DeVos. Here’s the headlines:

 

The board

The first meeting of the new Detroit school board had a celebratory air to it, with little of the raucous heckling that was common during school meetings in the emergency manager era. The board, which put in “significant time and effort” preparing to take office, is focused on building trust with Detroiters. But the meeting was not without controversy.

One of the board’s first acts was to settle a lawsuit that was filed by teachers last year over the conditions of school buildings. The settlement calls for the creation of a five-person board that will oversee school repairs.

The lawyers behind another Detroit schools lawsuit, meanwhile, filed a motion in federal court blasting Gov. Rick Snyder for evading responsibility for the condition of Detroit schools. That suit alleges that deplorable conditions in Detroit schools have compromised childrens’ constitutional right to literacy — a notion Snyder has rejected.

 

In Lansing

On DeVos

In other news