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.

First Person

I’m a teacher, not an activist. Here’s why I’m joining the March for Science this weekend

PHOTO: Creative Commons / Jeremy Wilburn

I became a science teacher because there’s nothing I love more than talking about science. This Saturday, I’ll march for science in Cleveland because there’s nothing I believe is more important than defending science in our society and our classrooms.

My love affair with science goes back to my seventh-grade teacher, Mr. Hurst, who took a hands-on approach to science education. Through labs and real-world investigations, my classmates and I discovered the complexity of scientific discovery. While I originally pursued a career in lab research, I soon realized that my true passion lay in teaching – that I could fulfill my love of science by delivering the same quality of teaching that I’d received to the next generation.

I’m marching for science on Saturday because every student deserves such a strong foundation. A well-rounded education should be a reality for every child in America – and that must include science, technology, engineering and math. Without it, our country won’t be able to solve the very real crises looming just over the horizon.

The world’s population is growing exponentially, consuming a limited supply of natural resources at a faster pace. We rely on nonrenewable forms of energy that we’ll inevitably exhaust at a great environmental cost. Medical advances have slowed the spread of infectious disease, but our overuse of antibiotics is leading to a new generation of drug-resistant pathogens.

Our children need to know what they are up against so they can design their own solutions. They need an education that enables them to think analytically, approach a problem, tackle new challenges, and embrace the unknown. That’s exactly what good science education does.

Still, I understand that some may wonder why teachers are marching – and even if they should. Some will inevitably accuse teachers of “politicizing” science or stepping “out of their lane.”

But marching for science is distinct from the kind of political statements I dutifully avoid in my role as a teacher. To me, marching is a statement of fact: without science teachers, there is no science education; without science education, there is no future for science in America. Science teachers and their classrooms are the agar in the petri dish that cultures our students’ scientific minds. (Did I mention there’s nothing I love talking about more than science?) In any movement for science, teachers have a role to play.

Marching, like teaching, is to take part in something bigger. Years from now, if I’m lucky, I might glimpse the name of one of my former students in the newspaper for a scientific discovery or prestigious award. But by and large, it’s my job to plant seeds of curiosity and discovery in a garden I may never see.

On Saturday, I’ll be there alongside doctors and nurses, engineers and researchers, and citizens from all walks of life who love science and want to see it valued and respected in our country. We might not see the fruit of our labors the day after the march, or even after that, but the message we send will be clear.

If you’re a parent or student – maybe one of my own – I hope you see that passion for science on full display around the nation this Saturday. I hope you see why having committed science teachers like myself and my colleagues is inextricably bound to the fate of our world. I hope that recognition grows into action to support teachers and demand universal access to an excellent science education, like the one I strive to provide every day in my classroom.

Sarah Rivera teaches engineering, biology, biomedical science, and environmental science at Perry High School in Perry, Ohio. She is also a member of 100Kin10’s teacher forum.

slowdown

Detroit school board pushes special meeting to discuss superintendent off until Thursday

PHOTO: Allie Gross
Derrick Coleman took center stage during a day of interviews to become Detroit's next schools chief.

When the Detroit school board on Thursday scheduled a special meeting for next week, it seemed like a sign that a vote for superintendent was near.

But late Friday, the board canceled the special Monday meeting, signaling that it is unlikely to make a final decision then — even though Tuesday marks its legal deadline to choose a schools chief.

Members still plan to meet on Tuesday but have pushed off the major discussion about who will lead the district. Later Friday, the special board meeting to discussion the superintendent candidates was rescheduled for Thursday, April 13.

Two finalists are vying for the district’s top position: Jacksonville, Florida, schools chief Nikolai Vitti and Derrick Coleman, who runs the suburban Detroit district of River Rouge. Each spent a day interviewing in the city recently.

The schedule change comes as board members face pressure to slow the search down and consider other candidates, including interim superintendent Alycia Meriweather. Both of the city’s leading newspapers this week called on the board to reopen the search, and Dan Gilbert, the businessman and philanthropist who is heavily involved in Detroit issues, joined the chorus supporting Meriweather with a tweet on Friday.

Board member Lamar Lemmons told Chalkbeat that the board wanted more time after visiting River Rouge. That visit is scheduled for Monday.