The real resolution of this conflict should come in November, when four of Caffrey’s leading critics on the board face re-election. This case perfectly illustrates the hazards presented by the toxic politics that all school reformers face. It is a screaming argument in favor of mayoral control of urban schools. [emphasis mine]It's because, even though school boards are elected, they just can't be trusted - like in Newark:
There is more to this story than the wishes of a backward board elected in a vote with only 7 percent turnout, dominated by the political boss Steve Adubato, a make-believe school reformer, and Ras Baraka, whose team is reflexively opposed to everything Anderson does. [emphasis mine]So, yes, let's turn over schools to mayors. Because what could possibly go wrong?
Ask Diane Ravitch:
And it's not just New York. 15 years of mayoral control in Chicago has left the schools with little progress to show and a teachers union ready to strike. Michelle Rhee's underwhelming performance in Washington D.C. doesn't say much for mayoral control there. But that seems to be par for the course:
Mayoral involvement is great; I think we're all for mayoral involvement. But schools become campaign props when autocratic politicians take control, and we're much less likely to have honest conversations about truly fixing urban education when figures like Mike Bloomberg or Adrian Fenty or Rahm Emanuel are at the helm.No conclusive evidence that governance changes increase achievement.Student achievement has been the toughest nut to crack. While school leaderstout many improvements in test scores, attendance and graduation rates, in fact,we were unable to establish conclusively that the change in governance had anycausal relationship to improved performance, or that, using nationally-normed testdata, our cities had greater improvements than anywhere else. Nevertheless, thestatistical significance of strong mayoral involvement with achievement scores atsome levels and in some areas, suggests that mayoral involvement, if not control,should, at the very least, be considered as part of an overall district improvementstrategy. [emphasis mine]
I'd change my mind if there was compelling evidence that mayoral control helps kids. Sadly, it looks as if that evidence doesn't exist. So let's put autocracy on hold and try democracy - with cleaned up campaign finance laws - for a while.
It's a miracle I can control anything!