A state assemblymember is ready to reject mayoral control.
“If they don’t have changes, I’m voting against it, again,” Peter Abbate told parents at a town hall in Bath Beach. “I mean major changes.”
Next month, Abbate, along with fellow Assemblymembers and the State Senate, will vote to keep, eliminate or change the law allowing the mayor total control over the public school system.
Under the current form of mayoral control, many parents, educators and politicians have accused Mayor Michael Bloomberg of disregarding public input.
“I voted against this system when it came in front of the Assembly” in 2002, said Assemblyman William Colton. “I predicted that parents were going to have no voice whatsoever and I think that prediction came about.”
In addition, Colton said, “Teachers have a unique interest in educating children yet the system doesn’t involve them.”
Paul Greco, a special education teacher at P.S. 225 in Brighton Beach, said teachers feel unsupported by the city Department of Education.
“We feel that we’re on an island lost,” he said. “It’s really sad.”
Abbate doesn’t understand why mayoral control was implemented in the first place.
“There was no need for that change,” Abbate said. “The only thing we needed in our school districts was more money and more school buildings.”
Bloomberg defends mayoral control. Stu Loeser, a spokesman for the mayor, says, “Some of our strongest progress has been in Brooklyn where the graduation rate is up by 7.5 points, reading scores are up 14.8 points for fourth−graders and 13.7 points for eighth−graders, and math scores have skyrocketed by 26.8 points for fourth−graders and 28.3 points for eighth−graders.”
As a state politician ultimately deciding the next form of school governance, Colton said his vote will be based on how Brooklynites view mayoral control.
“It’s really not going to be a hard decision if we listen to the people in this room,” he said to the dozens of parents and educators at the town hall. “You are the ones on the front lines.”