Since 2003, public school parents, children, educators, and community members have endured a dictatorial public education reform agenda that has ignored and marginalized their voices and has undermined and destabilized the schools they depend on, love, and serve. The departure of Cathleen Black highlights the incompetence, arrogance, and political nature of Bloomberg’s educational agenda; this is not about children first, but rather a blind belief in the corporate reform movement propelled by a centralized, top down system that has been destructive for our schools and our children.
It is time for a break in the power structure that has a strangle hold on our public education system; it is time for parents, children, educators and communities to have a say in the education of their 1.2 million school children.
The departure of four Deputy Chancellors in the last 100 days along with the admission by Mayor Bloomberg that the appointment of Black as Chancellor was a mistake, followed by the announced departure of the State Commissioner of Education on Thursday, makes it clear that the almost decade long mayoral control and corporate reform experiment that has ignored the voices of parents, teachers and community has been a failure for the entire educational community. The growing movements against school closings and the privatization of education have helped to expose these failures.
In the coming months our schools face severe cuts, testing is raging out of control, charter schools will attempt to expand by invading more schools, a campaign to close schools continues, dedicated educators are under attack, and our children’s education is at stake. Decisions about the lives of children, like the choice of leaders of the school system, should not be made without their parents, their communities and their teachers. We have little confidence that newly appointed Chancellor Dennis Walcott will be any more than the extension of the same policies with a different face. It is time for Mr. Bloomberg and the Department of Education to engage with parents, treat them as partners and provide the leadership and policies that truly do put children first.
The Grassroots Education Movement supports the Deny Waiver Coalition in their preference for a transparent and nationwide search process for a qualified Chancellor to run our school system. We believe that Mr. Bloomberg and our future Chancellor should fight for real reforms that will transform our public education system. They could begin with a moratorium on school closings, turnarounds, and charter co-locations. Reforms should include parent and teacher empowerment, more teaching, less testing, and the equitable funding needed to make sure our schools are responsive to, and the centers of, the communities they serve.
The Bloomberg ship is sinking. The last nine years under Mayor Bloomberg has been a sea of destructive and misguided educational policies. It is time for our children to be thrown a life raft. It is time for Bloomberg to be held accountable. It is time for a sea change.
Last modified Friday, April 8, 11PM