A state lawmaker who has vocally opposed Mayor Bloomberg’s control of city schools announced today that he plans to introduce a bill laying out an alternative governing structure for school system. Assemblyman James Brennan wants New York City’s school governance structure to look more like that of Boston, where mayoral control faces built-in “checks and balances,” his office announced today.
Under Brennan’s proposal, which the Post first reported last week, the city’s Board of Education, currently known as the Panel for Educational Policy, would retain its balance of seven mayoral appointees and one appointee each from the five borough presidents. But the mayor’s appointees would have to come from a pool of 14 names nominated by a 13-person panel representing a wide range of constituencies, including parents, teachers, administrators, the business community, and others. The mayor would also be allowed to appoint members of the nominating committee.
The complicated nominating system resembles the one proposed in March by Comptroller William Thompson, who is running for mayor.
Brennan’s bill is likely to end up being largely symbolic, even as the deadline for state lawmakers to decide the fate of mayoral control is now just eight weeks away, according to Peter Goodman, a longtime United Federation of Teachers member who worked on the UFT’s proposal for revamping mayoral control. Goodman said that because the bill won’t have come from the chair of the Assembly’s education committee, Catherine Nolan, it is unlikely to attract serious attention from legislators.
“If it doesn’t have the chairman’s name on it, then it’s not in play,” Goodman said, adding that the decision about mayoral control will probably come down to the wire, after other difficult issues including a MTA rescue plan are resolved. Portions of Brennan’s bill might be used in whatever proposal lawmakers finally do put forth, Goodman predicted.
Brennan also released two new studies today, one that revisits his earlier claim that Mayor Bloomberg and Schools Chancellor Joel Klein have taken credit for test score gains that are unfairly inflated, and one that attacks the wastefulness of no-bid contracts and administrative reorganizations.
Under Brennan’s school governance proposal, the Board of Education would be in charge of approving departmental contracts. In a report released alongside the bill announcement, Brennan said that the DOE has wasted taxpayer money as it the size of its no-bid contracts ballooned from $15 million in 2001 to $300 million in 2008-2009. “Vetting multi-million dollar no-bid contracts is simply good government,” he said in a statement.
CORRECTION: This story originally said that the New York Civil Liberties Union has endorsed Brennan’s bill. It has not.