New York Schools Tell the Mayor to Stay Out!

Written by Patricia Hawke for

If all goes according to Governor Spitzer’s plan, New York schools all over the state could have more mayoral representation in their boards.  While schools in the city of New York have been lobbying and making other hectic efforts to eliminate mayoral interference in their matters, New York schools elsewhere in the state could find themselves having exactly that – more representatives from the mayor’s office sitting on their boards.
It’s a prospect that has many New York schools skittish about the possibilities. When Mayor Bloomberg took over as Mayor of New York City, he assumed control over the school district.  Since then, New York schools in the Big Apple have been trying to reduce mayoral influence in their matters.  The legislation that gives the Mayor control over New York schools is expected to come to expire in 2009, and is heavily supported by the City’s business community. But lawmakers and school groups have been opposing any extension of the law.
Extending Mayoral Control over All New York Schools
The subject of New York schools and who gets to control them is always a hot one for mayors who take office not just in the City, but also in other cities around the state.  The topic is one of contention mainly in the Big 5 New York Schools – New York City, Yonkers, Syracuse, Rochester, and Buffalo.  Mayors already control school administration in New York City and Yonkers.  Syracuse, Rochester and Buffalo, on the other hand are run by independent school boards and with absolutely no input or interference from the mayor’s office.  And what’s more, they’d like to keep it that way.
Already, there are rumbles of dissent against any extension of this mayoral control policy in other New York schools.  Some opponents of mayoral control maintain that their schools have no need for any mayoral input. Mayors, on the other hand believe that New York schools run best when the mayor is in charge of affairs.  
Mayoral control of New York schools covers a variety of arrangements. Some cities allow the Mayor to dissolve school boards altogether.  Other New York schools like those in the City prefer to have certain members of school boards appointed by the Mayor.
In New York schools which are now currently under the control of independent school boards, opponents argue that giving the mayor control over school affairs goes against the principles of democracy.  When school board members are elected by the public, it helps maintain some semblance of answerability. 
They are right.  Mayors should concentrate on the million other things that come directly under their purview and should leave schools to be run by independent school boards elected by the public.  Giving a single individual huge power over New York schools sets an unhealthy example, and does not bode well for schools which produce our future citizens.